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U of Hartford Demands Athletes Behave During Commencement

May 20, 2022

The University of Hartford’s acting athletic director is demanding that student athletes be courteous during commencement Sunday—or face consequences, The Day reported.

In an email to coaches, interim AD Sharon Beverly wrote, “I encourage you to address with your team that while any disruption may result in disciplinary actions, including but not limited to their diplomas or transcripts being held, the respective sport programs may also have repercussions … Lastly, keep in mind that as leaders of your program, you are responsible for the behavior of your SA’s [student athletes].”

In a similar email to student athletes, Beverly wrote that the university expects all graduates and their guests to “refrain from behavior that is destructive, distracting or dangerous.”

“Should any of our graduates or their guests be found responsible for disruptions, there will be athletic repercussions for the entire team, in addition to the transcript and diploma holds,” she wrote. “I recognize that you are graduating, but your teams will ultimately have to take responsibility for your actions, including the possibility of games being cancelled or forfeited next season.”

The harsh warning was intended to avoid a repeat of last year's commencement, when athletes booed university president Gregory Woodward off the stage. Students were upset because the Hartford Board of Regents had just announced the university would transition from Division I to Division III by 2025—even though two months earlier the men’s basketball team had qualified for the NCAA Division I basketball tournament for the first time in the university’s 64-year history. The regents also announced that at Woodward’s urging, they would stop awarding athletic scholarships by the start of the 2023–24 school year. That prompted last year’s graduating seniors to jeer at Woodward during the university’s commencement. Shortly afterward, Beverly was hired.

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