The University of Hartford is reportedly considering dropping from Division I to Division III, just weeks after making the NCAA Tournament for the first time.
Local television station WTNH reports that the school partnered with Carr Sports Consulting over the winter to conduct a feasibility study on Division I athletics. The study found that the school loses roughly $13 million annually on its athletics program, and that operating at the D-I level isn’t viable for the program.
In addition, a report on the study reportedly recommends that, “UHart should explore viable membership options in NCAA Division Three that will align with the university’s mission.”
The report was intended to be kept confidential, but was obtained by WTNH. The TV station reached out to university president Gregory Woodward for comment.
“Everyone thinks you make the tournament you hit the jackpot. We didn’t get a cent from the tournament and congratulations to our great kids but we are losing money doing this,” Woodward said. “I don’t think what the world understands is that everyone who plays Division-I sports loses money, except for about 22 schools. There are about 350 schools in Division-I, only 23 make money the rest of us lose.”
Since news of the report broke, a Change.org petition was created to urge the school to maintain its D-I status. Junior DJ Mitchell, who started at guard for the Hartford team that would lose in the first round to eventual national champion Baylor, penned a letter to Woodward urging him to reconsider.
The letter was published by the CT Post, and reads in part:
The seeds have been planted today like they have never been planted before - demonstrated by Hartford making March Madness for the first time in its history. Why not leverage this success like other successful Division 1 colleges do? Especially when there is evidence that Hartford deserves to be there. But right when success is being achieved, the rug may be pulled from underneath us - just doesn’t make sense to us.
Hartford is a great school. It is underrated just like our team has been historically. But as we say in the locker room, we like our odds. We have what it takes here to build a stronger sports program. We have a great coaching team, adequate facilities, which even my family had personally tried to help enhance, and more than that we have a great team.
As of this writing, the Change.org petition has 1,200 signatures.