On the heels of its first-ever NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament appearance, the University of Hartford announced Thursday that it will transition its athletic department to Division III. The Hawks won the America East Tournament this past season to secure the league's automatic bid before losing to No. 1 seed Baylor, the eventual national champion, in the first round.

An announcement from the university noted the decision should take effect "no later" than Sept. 1, 2025.

"The decision comes after a year of discussion and study of the current athletics model and several alternatives, as well as the review of a report from an on-campus task force comprising coaches, staff, faculty, alumni, and a member of the Board; financial information related to current athletics operations; and a review conducted by a nationally recognized athletics consulting firm," said the university's announcement.

Hartford joined Division I in the 1984-85 season and fields 17 teams total across its athletic department. The decision to transition to Division III has been met with resistance from student-athletes.

"I can't believe this is even in question after the last four years in our programs history," guard DJ Mitchell wrote on Twitter last month. "I'm in awe. The president completely discredited what me and many others have sacrificed for the school. I really hope it's all just talk but I don't know what to think."

The Hawks have posted a 38-24 record in America East play over the past four seasons under coach John Gallagher, who just completed his 11th season.

"Intercollegiate athletics has long been an integral part of the University of Hartford student experience and that will not change," Hartford Board of Regents chair David Gordon said. "At the same time, a move to Division III will allow the University to further strengthen the academic, co-curricular, and wellness experience for all students. While we know this decision will disappoint some members of our community, we remain confident that this shift is in the best long-term interests of the institution and all its students."