clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Rutgers rowing: how will Pat Hobbs look at the hiring of a new coach?

Is this just a matter of filling a vacant position, or is this the start of upgrading the Olympic sports?

The Cancer Research - Oxford v Cambridge University Boat Races 2017 Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Are we filling a vacancy? Or are we looking to win?

Is there going to be a commitment to winning, and all that entails?

Those are questions that Pat Hobbs will need to answer as he replaces Max Borghard as the women’s rowing head coach.

It was the Targum, Rutgers’ student newspaper, that broke the news (good for them!)

The report from the Targum was based on an email it obtained from Pat Hobbs to the team. In it, he said that the entire staff was “stepping down”. Gotta wonder about that phrasing.

Borghard is a Rutgers grad and a former member of crew....when Rutgers had crew. He spent two years after graduation on the US National Team. Rutgers produced top level rowers, and Borghard was part of that elite tradition. Now, after 22 years leading the women’s program - outlasting four athletic directors - he is out.

In his story, Ryan Dunleavy made the comment, “But, like with many Olympic sports at Rutgers, the transition to the Big Ten has been difficult.” True enough, but it wasn’t just the move to the Big Ten that has impacted rowing.

Over the last three years as a member of the Big Ten, the rowing team has finished last at the Big Ten Rowing Championships. All three years. But before that, Rutgers was already falling behind in the sport. While Borghard led Rutgers to three of the first five NCAA Championship competitions in women's rowing (1997, 1998 and 2001) it hasn’t done so in 16 years. And recent results don’t reflect much success in conference competition either, regardless of what that conference was called. The table below documents that.

The Big East no longer sponsors rowing and has no historical records on its site. Rutgers records are also somewhat inconsistent

The Big Ten has had a rowing championship since 2000. Ohio State has won it eight times and has been the NCAA Champion three of the last four years, with the 2017 NCAA Championships being conducted this weekend at Mercer Lake in West Windsor, NJ. Five Big Ten squads will be participating.

In all, over the last ten years, OSU, Michigan, and Wisconsin have been some combination of first, second, and third in the conference, with the exception of three years when Michigan State won or came in second.

And, needless to say, Iowa and Indiana have been happy to see Rutgers in the B1G.

In announcing that the staff would be changing, Pat Hobbs stated that the school would begin a “national search” for a replacement. But I hope Pat realizes what that means.

We’ve written in other posts about how Rutgers just doesn’t have the money - and so doesn’t spend the money - it needs to be as competitive as it should. And rowing is no exception. Compared to other head coaches in the Big Ten, Borghard was practically a part-timer based on his salary. And the budget for rowing at Rutgers paled in comparison even to teams that previously had been at the bottom of the Big Ten. If Hobbs is going to conduct a “national search” and he wants Rutgers to be competitive, there are going to need to be some changes.

Figures based on 2016 NCAA Financial Reports reflecting the 2015-16 academic year

Rutgers will need to boost the salary of the head coach, and likely the assistants. It will need to increase the budget to make it competitive with the least of the Big Ten. It will likely need to include a promise that a new boathouse/training facility will be built at some point in the near future, again to compete with the best of the rest.

And all that for an Olympic sport.

After the Big Ten Championships, Borghard spoke about his team’s performance. “The Scarlet Knights gave everything they had today and showed themselves they are ready to take that next step in 2018, getting their bows ahead of other Big Ten schools,” said Max Borghard. “I would like to thank the six seniors for their dedication On the Banks.”

But giving all they had might not be enough. Rutgers may need to give all it has, too.

For the record, three Scarlet Knights earned postseason honors: sophomore Sarah Johanek was named First Team All-Big Ten and senior Onyeka Oguagha was selected Second Team All-Big Ten. Senior Michelle Gao was the recipient of the Sportsmanship Award.