Hartwick Board to Women’s Water Polo Program: Go Away!

Photo Courtesy: Hartwick Athletics

By Michael Randazzo, Swimming World Contributor

Yesterday Francis D. Landrey,Chair of the Hartwick College Board of Trustees, notified the 24 athletes on the Hartwick women’s water polo team that the board’s decision is final: Hawks water polo will not exist beyond the 2018 season.

Landrey—who in a March 16th meeting with the team said “That’d be terrific, but it wouldn’t change anything,” in response to Hartwick senior Katie McKenty’s question if  earning a berth this spring in the NCAA Women’s Water Polo Tournament might save the program—was definitive in articulating the board’s determination to eliminate a program that since 2001 has been one of the East’s best.


Photo Courtesy: Hartwick Athletics

“The President [Margaret Drugovich] and I met with the water polo team today to let them know that, after carefully considering these proposals, the Board has decided to uphold its decision to discontinue Hartwick’s participation in NCAA Division I athletics,” Landrey’s statement said. “It is no longer realistic to provide the financial support needed to sustain DI athletics. In addition, the College has no plan, at this time, to create a DIII water polo program. The Board has determined that the opportunities for DIII water polo competition in New York State are too limited for the College to support this program. The College will continue its long-standing effort to assure other athletic opportunities for women who enroll at Hartwick.”

In a controversial move, Hartwick is downgrading its DI men’s soccer program but is not offering women’s water polo the same option. There are a number of DIII programs that are reasonably close to Hartwick’s upstate New York location, most notably Utica College, located 60 miles from Oneonta.

Other relatively close DIII programs include: Connecticut College in New London; Gannon, Mercyhurst, Penn State Behrend and Washington & Jefferson near Erie, PA. National programs at California Lutheran, Macalester, Pomona-Pitzer and Whittier travel annually to the East Coast for tournaments.

Despite a drumbeat of disheartening news, Hartwick’s team soldiers on. Not only have the Hawks won 25 games on the season thus far—with only seven losses, all to teams ranked in the latest Collegiate Water Polo Association’s top 25—head coach Alan Huckin’s team is currently ranked #12 in the country, second only to Michigan among Eastern squads.

This weekend Hartwick will face CWPA rivals Bucknell, George Washington, Harvard and Princeton in Cambridge, MA before a regular season-ending match on Saturday, April 14 at Michigan. Whether or not the Hawks qualify for their fourth NCAA berth in the past 15 years will be decided at the CWPA Championships, to be held at Bucknell on April 27 and 28.

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  1. Colleen Hazlett

    Is Hartwick a public or private school? Do they receive any public funding? Down grade a men’s program but not a woman’s; an OCR Title IX complaint might be necessary.

    • avatar
      Michael Randazzo

      Hi Colleen:

      Thank you for your comments. Hartwick College is a small, private liberal arts college—but like EVERY college / university in America Hartwick receives federal funding, typically in the form of financial aid for its students. Which is to say they ABSOLUTELY must comply with Title IX.

      Which is what makes this situation so curious; are the Hartwick President / Board hoping that no one will notice that it’s quite likely that, by eliminating a women’s sport, they are likely violating Title IX provisions?

      Stay tuned; there’s another act yet to be played out.

      Your correspondent

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