University of Hartford student-athletes are taking their effort to remain Division I athletes to court.
According to The Associated Press, seven Hartford athletes and two student managers filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court on Wednesday, arguing that the private university in Connecticut is breaking promises by transitioning all university athletics from Division I to Division III.
Hartford, which made the NCAA men’s basketball tournament for the first time this year, responded Wednesday with a statement saying it is confident that the move to DIII “is in the best long-term interest of our students and the institution.”
The Hartford Board of Regents voted in May to begin the transition to Division III after a Carr Sports Consulting study found that the school loses roughly $13 million in athletics, and that moving to Division III would save $9.2 million per year. The school will reportedly submit a formal request to the NCAA in January 2022, with the hopes of stopping athletic scholarships before 2023-24 and reclassifying by Sept. 1, 2025.
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Wednesday’s lawsuit alleges that Hartford officials relied on inaccurate and misleading information, saying moving to Division III would save the school $1 million instead of $9 million. The athletes also say the consultant ignored that it will take seven years to fully transition the athletic department. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and a permanent injunction that would block the move.
When announcing the move to Division III this spring, board of regents chair David Gordon said the transition “will allow the University to further strengthen the academic, co-curricular, and wellness experience for all students. While we know this decision will disappoint some members of our community, we remain confident that this shift is in the best long-term interests of the institution and all its students."
Hartford students have protested the move, including booing university president Gregory Woodward during commencement and the softball team blacking out the university’s name on their jerseys.
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