UHart coach fights back tears in exclusive interview, after athletics model transitions from Division I to Division III


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The University of Hartford Board of Regents voted Thursday to transition the University’s athletics programs from NCAA Division I to Division III.

The board’s decision comes after a year of discussion and study of the current athletics model as well as the review of an on-campus task force.

News 8 first broke the story last month when the board looked at a feasibility study that said D-I athletes are losing $14 million a year. Athletes blame the new president Gregory Woodward. They were pretty upset with him.

Upset and heartbreak can be felt throughout the University of Hartford. The Board of Regents voted Thursday night to transition the school’s athletics programs from Division I to Division III.

“There is nothing in my career that’s made me prouder than being the head of this neighborhood,” said John Gallagher, Head Coach of the University of Hartford’s Men’s Basketball team.

University of Hartford’s men’s basketball coach John Gallagher choked back tears, talking about the impact this decision will have on his team and the campus community.

“We feel for all student athletes, we feel for the community,” said Gallagher.

His team is coming off a monumental season, winning their first-ever America East Conference Championship and making their debut in the NCAA tournament. Gallagher said this news only pushes them to make the next few years even better.

“There’s a lot of hurt, a lot of anxiety, but I’m here to tell you next season is going to be the best season in school history,” said Gallagher.

Kathy Behrens, Vice Chair of the University of Hartford’s Board of Regents, said this wasn’t an easy decision.

“We think this is the right path for us,” explained Behrens. 

She said the board thought carefully and hard about this for the last year.

“The University Board really felt it was in the best interest of the long-term growth for the University of Hartford,” said Behrens.

Student-athletes News 8 spoke with are hoping they’ll reconsider.

“I really hope they take time to put themselves in our shoes, think about where we’re coming from, and I think it’s important they reconsider this decision,” said Austin Williams, of the University of Hartford’s men’s basketball team.

His teammate, DJ Mitchell, added “I’m praying they do.”

The transition will take some time.  The university will officially file its intent to move to Division III at the start of next year. The plan is to make the shift no later than September 2025. 

Visit the university’s official website for more information.

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