Hartford players celebrate after beating UMass Lowell in the championship game of the America East men’s basketball tournament in Hartford, Conn., on March 13. The school announced it is dropping its sports teams from Division I to Division III. A consultants report released last month said the school could save more than $9 million a year by making the move. Kassi Jackson/Hartford Courant via AP

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — University of Hartford sports are dropping from Division I to Division III.

The decision comes after the Hartford men’s basketball team this season won its first America East championship and played in the NCAA Tournament for the first time, losing to eventual national champion Baylor in the first round.

The University of Maine also plays in America East.

Hartford President Gregory Woodward said the school wants to “transition to this new model for intercollegiate athletics.”

The discussion to downgrade to Division III has sparked marches on campus led by athletes and a petition from alumni to remain in Division I.

The Board of Regents said Thursday night’s vote came after a year of discussions. A consultants report released last month said the school could save more than $9 million a year by making the move.

The university said it will submit a formal request to the NCAA for reclassification in January 2022. It plans to stop offering athletic scholarships before the 2023-24 school year and hopes to complete the transition by Sept. 1, 2025.

The school joined Division I from Division II in the mid-1980s. It said it plans to honor all current scholarships and coaching contracts.

“The University of Hartford owes so much to the generations of student-athletes and athletics staff who have added immeasurably to our community and are a source of pride for the university,” Woodward said in a statement. “As we transition to this new model for intercollegiate athletics in the coming years, I am energized by the opportunities we will have to support the success of all of our students, including our student-athletes.”

FOOTBALL

TEXAS: Linebacker Jake Ehlinger, the younger brother of former Longhorns quarterback Sam Ehlinger, was found dead near campus Thursday, Austin police said.

Officers found the 20-year-old Ehlinger after responding to a call at 12:18 p.m. Police did not detail how they found him but said the death is not considered suspicious. No cause of death was immediately released. Jake Ehlinger did not play the last two seasons after arriving as a walk-on from Austin’s Westlake High School.

Sam Ehlinger was a sixth-round pick in the NFL draft last week by the Indianapolis Colts after a college career that saw him rank among Texas’ career passing leaders. When Sam Ehlinger was drafted, Jake’s face was accidentally shown on the NFL Network instead of Sam. “Jake deserves all the screen time you can get,” Sam joked with reporters.

Jake’s death is the second tragedy to hit the Ehlinger family. Ross Ehlinger, Sam and Jake’s father, died at age 46 in 2013 of an apparent heart attack while competing in a triathlon in San Francisco.

PRESBYTERIAN COLLEGE: Kevin Kelley, the Arkansas high school football coach whose teams don’t punt and always onside kick, will be the next head coach at Presbyterian College.

A person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press on Thursday night the school was finalizing a deal to hire Kelley. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the school was not yet prepared to make an official announcement. Kelley led Pulaski Academy in Little Rock, Arkansas, to nine state titles in 18 seasons with his analytical approach to football. Kelley has gained national attention for his fourth-down strategy and been sought out by coaches at all levels of football.

Presbyterian of the Pioneer Leagues is coming off a 4-3 spring FCS season. Last month, the school fired Coach Tommy Spangler after 10 seasons during which he went 54-52.


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