Saturday, February 04, 2006

The NCAA Talks Lightweight Rowing

A few weeks ago I sent seven questions to Tina Krah, Associate Director of Championships, who handles the women's heavyweight championship for the NCAA. My purpose was to try to get a better understanding of the NCAA's view toward women's lightweight rowing. My questions and Tina's answers, both unedited, are below.

1. Do you intend to make lightweight women’s rowing a NCAA sport? If not, why not?

The NCAA National Office does not determine what the format is for any of the championships, the committees do. At this point in time, the NCAA Rowing committees, made up of college coaches and administrators, do not have intentions to add lightweight rowing to the women's championship format. We have had and will continue to have discussions on the format as well as what defines a team at all three divisions. Presently, Division I defines a team as I Eight - II Eight - Four; Division II defines a team as I Eight and Four; Division III defines a team as I Eight and II Eight.

2. Is there a minimum number of schools that have to race lightweight women’s boats before you consider sponsoring a NCAA championship?

Certainly to add lightweight rowing we would want to know the membership feels there is a desire to add this event to the format. I do not believe there is magic number of institutions that needs to have lightweight rowing. Presently, for the women sports, we would need to have 40 institutions sponsoring the sport to consider it for a championship. Since we have the championship in place it would be a matter of considering if lightweight rowing is what the membership wants to add this to the present championship format. As stated in the previous answer the committee has been discussing the championship format with the rowing coaches.

3. Since the NCAA doesn’t sponsor a lightweight women’s championship, do schools have to follow NCAA guidelines in their lightweight women’s programs (recruiting, etc.)?

The institutions would determine this. It would depend how the institution is counting the sport on their individual campuses. It is not determined by whether there is a championship or not.

4. Do varsity lightweight crew programs count as a women’s sport for Title IX purposes?

This is an institutional decision.

5. Is it the NCAA’s intent to discourage women’s lightweight rowing?

The national rowing committee has been in discussions with the rowing coaches to determine how to continue to grow the sport of rowing. We have not discouraged any event. The decisions to add or change the format of the championship are driven by the membership. The rowing committee continues to look to the membership for direction.

6. Why is the heavyweight women’s championship regatta separate from the men’s and lightweight women’s championship?

The NCAA championships are exclusive to the events that are considered for crowning the champion. If the lightweight events would want to be held at the same time but not be included into the NCAA championships there would be restrictions on how the lightweight event would be run. There would be several issues and would be complicated in having both events at the same time especially since at this point in time we do not have a men's championship. You would have to keep the events completely separate.

7. What do you think has been the major benefit NCAA sponsorship has brought women’s heavyweight rowing?

I am sure for every sport on a college campus the ultimate accomplishment is winning a national championship not only for the schools but more importantly the student athletes. The fact that rowing has been determined as a team sport the direction collegiate rowing has been heading is (as far as championships) is to keep the team concepts in place. I would hope establishing an NCAA championship in women's rowing has given those student athletes that have a passion for the sport an opportunity they did not have previously on their campus. I would also hope it has aided in continuing to grow the sport at all levels. The fact we have a championship in all three divisions shows there has been growth in the sport.

My comments follow in the next post.

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