The Hartwick College Board of Trustees announced on February 28, 2018 that it had voted to move the men's soccer program from Division I status to Division III and to end its participation in women's Division I water polo.
It is always disappointing and creates a dilemma for the current players when a school eliminates a program as in the case of the women's water polo team or in the case of the men's soccer program which moves from Division I to Division III.
The status of the men's soccer program at Hartwick has come up before so it is not totally surprising that this occurred. The fact that Hartwick participated at the Division III level in all other sports inherently created a tenuous situation.
We are not privy to all of the factors that went into this decision. However, normally the issue of eliminating a men's Division I sport is driven either by finances or to meet Title IX guidelines. In Hartwick's case financial issues (a money-saving measure) appear to be the driving factor. However, the Board of Trustees also indicated that the soccer team's declining success at the Division I level contributed to the decision.
Hartwick has a proud history of play in Division I men's soccer and what has always been a supportive alumni base. The Hawk's resume includes a total of twenty-five appearances in the NCAA Tournament at the Division I level with the last coming in 2014 and 2015 as members of the Sun Belt Conference under the direction of head coach John Scott who assumed the reigns of the program in 2010 after Ian McIntyre left to become the head coach at Syracuse.
Hartwick has advanced to the College Cup a total of seven times with the last occurring in 1985 and they won the National Championship in 1977.
In 2017 Hartwick senior forward Jamie O'Grady was named the Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year. Senior midfielder Johnny McBeth, junior goalkeeper Lenny Wilson and sophomore midfielder Hamish Ritchie were 2017 Sun Belt Conference All-Second Team selections.
Hartwick is a member of the Empire Eight Conference in Division III play which consists of eight schools in men's soccer.
The current Hawk players who elected to join the program at the Division I level now face the challenge and potentially difficult decision of whether or not to pursue a transfer to another Division I program or to continue at Hartwick under the new conditions.
A petition was started by the Hartwick Women's Water Polo Community opposing the changes announced and to date it has over 10,000 signatures.
The petition which is on the internet indicates in part the following, "These teams are a massively contributing factor of what sets Hartwick apart from the other private schools in the surrounding areas, because in addition to these teams competing at the highest level in the NCAA, they also bring a wide sense of culture and diversity to a small liberal arts school in upstate New York drawing student athletes from all over the world."