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Hartford Announces Controversial Move To D3 After Making 1st NCAA Tournament

A general view of the NCAA logo at center court.

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20: A general view of the court before the game between the Georgia Bulldogs and Michigan State Spartans during the second round of the 2015 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

After more than a year of discussions and deliberation, the University of Hartford's Board of Regents voted to transition all of their athletic programs from the Division I to Division III level. The majority-yes vote took place on Thursday afternoon.

According to board chair David Gordon, the controversial decision came as an effort to "strengthen the academic, co-curricular, and wellness experience for all students." But, fans and athletes involved with the programs certainly aren't too please with the choice.

For the athletes who worked so hard to earn their Division 1 scholarships, this slight to their programs was like a punch to the gut. During a game for the Hartford softball team on Friday, players blacked out their jerseys with duct tape in protest of the decision.

While the university says this decision was a long time coming, the timing couldn't get much worse. After notching a 15-8 overall record and claiming an America East Conference tournament victory, the Hawks' men's basketball team earned its first ever NCAA Tournament bid. While they ultimately fell to the eventual national-champion Baylor Bears in the first round, this was an amazing accomplishment for the program. Head basketball coach John Gallagher took to Twitter to share his discontent with the decision on Friday. "I am extremely disappointed in the Board of Regents' vote yesterday,"

— John Gallagher (@CoachGalUHart) May 7, 2021

">Gallagher wrote. "We met as a team (Friday) and we made an untied decision that we are staying together to play next season. We will fight hard to repeat our success and continue to elevate this program to new heights.

"I care deeply about my tremendous student-athletes, my coaching staff, the entire university, and the greater Hartford community. We are thankful for all the low and support from the #neighborhood."

Though the sting of the decision is immediate for all those closely involved, the change still has a long way to go before it becomes official.

Hartford will file its intent to move to DIII in January of 2022. If the NCAA approves the proposal, the transition would occur no later than Sep. 1, 2025.