John Gallagher has resigned as Hartford men’s basketball coach a day before the Hawks, who are transitioning from Division I to Division III, open the 2022-23 season.
Hartford announced the controversial Division III move in May 2021, just two months after Gallagher led the Hawks to the first NCAA Tournament appearance in program history .
In his resignation letter, addressed to university president Greg Woodward, Gallagher wrote that Hartford has “not only breached the material terms of my contract but has consistently and repeatedly undermined the Men’s basketball program to the point where player safety and well-being has been jeopardized.”
Gallagher, 45, coached 12 seasons at Hartford with a record of 169-207. The Hawks were 12-20 last season.
In May, Gallagher sued a vice chairman of the university’s Board of Regents for fraud and negligent misrepresentation . Gallagher claimed in the suit that David Thompson mislead him about Hartford’s exploration of Division I status in the spring of 2021. The lawsuit alleged that Gallagher did not pursue other coaching opportunities based on those conversations.
“Less than two years after the team proudly represented the University in the NCAA Tournament, the program has experienced an exodus of its best players to other programs, the removal of its scholarships, and has been increasingly stripped of critical resources necessary to protect our Student-Athletes.”
Gallagher wrote that he had communicated these concerns, beginning in February, and that the university did not respond.
He added, “Less than two weeks ago, contrary to the consistent practice during my 13 years at the University, I was informed that the University would not be providing a trainer to travel with the Team to a pre-season game at Dartmouth College. As the Director of Athletics knows full well, and as any coach can attest, trainers are critical for injury prevention and, when injuries do occur, they provide immediate on-site treatment that serves to mitigate and lessen the extent and duration of the injury. … That is something that I, as a Coach, cannot tolerate.”
Gallagher’s letter noted that his contract has a clause that prevents him from speaking publicly in a way that would reflect negatively on the university.
“With ongoing press coverage at games and elsewhere, it would not be possible for me to refrain from speaking publicly about these matters, and I certainly do not want to give the University the opportunity to terminate my employment because I expressed something negative about the University. The reality, however, is that the University has effectively already terminated my contract due to its repeated and ongoing failure to adhere to the core commitments it made to me in the contract — commitments that I relied upon in agreeing to serve as Head Coach.”
Gallagher added, “I have witnessed the profound deterioration of this once-proud institution under the current administration. In the current era, enrollment is plummeting, staff morale has never been lower, students are suing the University, and the University is systematically dismantling its athletic programs. Honestly, it has been painful to watch.”
Hartford opens its season Tuesday against Sacred Heart, part of a 28-game schedule.