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Hartford head coach John Gallagher resigns

NCAA Basketball: Hartford at Baylor

Mar 19, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Hartford Hawks head coach John Gallagher yells out during the first half against the Baylor Bears in the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. -- Coach John Gallagher has resigned less than two years after leading the Hartford men’s basketball team to its first NCAA Tournament.

Gallagher, who was named head coach in 2010, sent his resignation letter to university President Greg Woodward, the eve of the first game of the season, which will be the school’s last at the Division I level.

In his letter, Gallagher said the school had consistently undermined the program “to the point where player safety and well-being has been jeopardized.” He cited a preseason scrimmage at Dartmouth in late October when one of his players was injured and wasn’t immediately tended to because the school did not send an athletic trainer with the team.

The university disputed Gallagher’s claims, saying in a statement they were “full of inaccuracies.”

“The safety of our students is always our top priority,” the statement said. “For the recent Dartmouth scrimmage he referenced, the University confirmed there would be athletic training on site to assist both UHart and Dartmouth student-athletes. This is an institution with highly qualified medical staff and facilities. Additionally, other members of our staff have always had a University-sponsored credit card for planned meals and expenses. We are confident that these baseless claims and attacks will be disproved through the legal process.”

The university said it would announce an interim coach for the men’s basketball program.

Gallagher’s departure comes as the university prepares to transition to Division III after this season. In May 2021, the university announced the decision to move in an attempt to save money and place more emphasis on academics.

The men’s basketball program competed in the America East Conference and won its 2021 tournament to earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The team is competing this year as an independent and will become a member of Division III’s Commonwealth Coast Conference beginning in 2023-24.