By Konner Hancock
The men’s rowing team capsized in 2016, all that was left was their legacy floating adrift.
The jetsam men’s sport was officially sunk in the summer of 2016, just before Seattle Pacific University acquired Head Athletic Director Jackson Stava.
Stava stated the decision was made by his predecessors and that they “wanted to take a step back and establish the women’s program first.”
The National Colligate Athletic Association only supports women’s rowing as a conference verses men’s rowing where it does not, “it [also] supports the schools title nine requirement, so it made sense,” he said.
The schools title nine requirement is a non-discriminatory policy that states not to discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in its programs or activities, as required by applicable laws and regulations.
Despite the program ending up lost at sea, there was plenty of its history afloat.
Forty years ago the men and women’s varsity rowing squad was established as a varsity sport, but before then it was just a club. The now disband men’s rowing squad built a long legacy at SPU including competing on the national level, several entries as a team in the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association.
In 1972 a graduate student, David Covey, gathered several men on campus to form a rowing club.
A national champion as an undergraduate at the University of Washington, Covey took it upon himself to coach those interested in joining.
As interest grew, that same year a women’s rowing club formed and grew side by side with the men. Six years after the original binding of the club, Seattle Pacific sponsored the program as a varsity sport.
John Terwilliger ’81, a member of that crew, went on to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team in 1980, 1984 and 1988. He was a member of the silver medalist eight in Los Angeles in 1984. In 1986, Terwilliger was in the boat when the Americans won the gold at the World Championships.
Throughout the entirety of the crew at SPU the team has earned over 65 Northwest Collegiate Rowing titles, several of which earned by the men.
The last Head Coach of the men’s rowing team, Keith Jefferson, took over the program in 1990. Jefferson headed the men and women’s program.
Jefferson treaded uncharted waters during his career with SPU. The women reached the NCAA DII championships for the first time in 2007, Jefferson’s fleet medaled 28 times at the Western Intercollegiate Rowing Association and Pacific Coast Rowing Championships, including 11 golds, along several other accomplishments during Jefferson’s reign.
Despite the disbandment of the men’s rowing, “a lot of SPU rowing alumni look at the team now and understand why [men’s rowing was disbanded], because the women’s program is in much better care,” Stava said.
Stava mentioned that a men’s rowing team or club is a possibility, but “focusing funding on the women’s rowing is the best option.”
The Head Coach of the women’s rowing team, Andy Derrick said, “Just like at every university there are two possibilities for any team, though I can’t speak to likelihood of either here at SPU, one is student run and funded club organization and another is under the athletic department.”