WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Current and alumni student-athletes of the University of Hartford are suing to stop the school from moving athletics from Division I to Division III.
The suit seeks a permanent injunction, requiring UHart to remain a Division I school, along with punitive and compensatory damages.
University of Hartford President Greg Woodward has said the decision to downgrade to division III was made to save money and place more of a focus on academics.
The announcement prompted several protests and anger with fingers pointing at the school’s president.
Abby Nash, a UHart graduate, told News 8, “He told us that it was to save the school money. But, no offense, none of us really believe that. There is only one school in the country that moved from Division I to Division III and they plummeted. They had to go back up divisions because they tanked!”
The complaint says the athletes were promised that attending the university would help them achieve their athletic potential through “accountability, consistency, and pride.”
The plaintiffs allege UHart officials falsely promised that athletes would be able to participate in D-1 athletics for up to five years.
Former UHart volleyball player Abby Nash says the Division 1 title holds a lot of weight for athletes.
“All respect to D-3. As much as we don’t wanna be it, we still respect it but yeah that title holds a lot of weight and you just don’t want to be called that once you’ve been called something better.”
In a statement to News 8, the university said, “We have received the lawsuit and are reviewing it. The leadership of the University of Hartford is confident the decision about a future change to our athletic division is in the best long-term interest of our students and the institution.”
In a statement to the Hartford Board of Regents, the group of current and former student-athletes said,
We are proud University of Hartford Division I professional athletes and former pros. We
did not have a voice in the Board’s decision to move our proud athletic programs to Division III.
In addition, President Woodward has lied and misled often, likely doing it to the Board too. We
will not sit silently in either case. We urge President Woodward to resign his post, and we ask the
Board to embrace the voices of the entire campus community in reconsidering this important
The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction requiring UHart to remain part of Division I — it also seeks punitive damages. The schools’ president will not comment at this time.
The University of Hartford Men’s Basketball team made it to the first round of March Madness 2021 but saw defeat against Baylor.