WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — A celebration was held for the University of Hartford’s men’s basketball team in West Hartford on Wednesday. The Hawks are coming off a historic season, winning their first-ever America East Conference Championship and making their NCAA Tournament debut.
“I, Mayor Shari Cantor, recognize this achievement and hereby proclaim April 28, 2021, as University of Hartford’s Men’s Basketball Day in West Hartford,” said Mayor Cantor during Wednesday’s ceremony.
Governor Ned Lamont was among the dozens of fans, students, alumni, and family members who were there to show support for the team.
“What I love about sports is everybody rowing in the same direction, everyone being a team, everyone having the same goal, everyone standing up every day – knowing if you work together, you can accomplish so much,” said Gov. Lamont.
The celebration Wednesday was held amid talks of downgrading the school’s athletic program. News 8 uncovered a secret study that recommended downgrading the school’s sports program from Division I to Division III.
Since then, there have been calls for the university’s president, Greg Woodward, to step down. There are also reports he never congratulated Head Coach John Gallagher on making the Big Dance.
“I know a lot is going on at the university,” said State Rep. Matt Ritter, Speaker of the House, Wednesday. “We support you and the challenges going on. We hope everything works out.”
While Gallagher wouldn’t comment on this, he did tell News 8 they’re looking forward to the future – one, he knows, is bright.
“It shows you where our program is and headed,” said Gallagher.
Players said they’re grateful for the season they had and for this recognition.
“I’m so happy, I could almost cry right now,” said Traci Carter of UHart’s men’s basketball team.
President Woodward did not attend the celebration.