University of Hartford Athletics Feasibility Study
Maintaining a sustainably successful Division I athletics program has significant funding and infrastructure requirements, as well as long-term implications for the University of Hartford (UHart) and the University of Hartford Department of Athletics (Athletics). Accordingly, President Woodward formed and charged the President’s Task Force on Athletics (Task Force) with conducting an analytically focused examination of the future of Athletics, specifically under UHart’s current NCAA Division I model (Division I). This examination focused primarily on “ways to reduce costs, evaluating ways to achieve excellence, and refining the role of Athletics in the University, community and our Conference”. The continued practicality of UHart’s membership in the NCAA Division I America East Conference (AEC) received rigorous review.
CarrSports Consulting, LLC (CarrSports) was retained to provide an objective analysis and recommendations based on UHart’s parameters for determining the most suitable model for UHart Athletics. The models, in keeping with those of the Task Force, are identified below:
- Model I: Remain in the America East Conference
- Model II: Review other NCAA Division I (Division I) conference options
- Model III: Examine NCAA Division III (Division III) membership and conference options
The above models presume maintaining UHart’s current sports offerings and a planned reduction of institutional funding for Athletics over the next four years. Each model analysis was guided by six overarching assumptions:
UHart’s preferred Athletics model will continue an emphasis on academic excellence, student-athlete well-being, and holistic development.
- NCAA rules compliance and alignment with the University’s Mission will be foundational to any Athletics model.
- UHart will implement a substantial reduction in institutional funding for Athletics seeking a more financially self-sustainable Athletics model. The current Division I funding model is not sustainable.
- Athletics’ contribution to UHart’s enrollment management goals will include generating a significant increase in net tuition revenues from student-athlete enrollment. Present student-athlete net tuition revenues are negligible.
- Athletics’ expenses, along with UHart’s student-athlete financial aid discount rate (around 94%), are inconsistent with UHart’s institutional size and operating capacity, and run significantly counter to the University’s general student population discount rate.
- Athletics’ future organizational design and facility enhancements will be strategically aligned with the broader enrichment of campus life. Campus wellness, health, recreation, intramurals, and club sports will be formally integrated with Athletics.
Consistent with intercollegiate athletics nationwide, UHart’s model will also be significantly influenced by enrollment uncertainty, University budgeting instability, as well as the unpredictability of NCAA governance and legislation. Additionally, University and Athletics’ operations and planning will continue to be influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic through FY 2021-2022 and beyond.