It isn’t a high profile hire.
Or is it?
Just before Memorial day weekend, former coach Max Borghard and his staff “stepped down” and it was announced that there would be a national search for a new coach. If “national” means pulling in someone with successful coaching stops on the other side of the country, then Rutgers Athletic Director Pat Hobbs was true to his word.
Hobbs announced that Justin Price will take over as head coach of the rowing program. Price has over a decade of coaching experience with recent stops at Loyola Marymount and UCLA.
"We are incredibly excited to welcome Justin to Rutgers," said Hobbs. "Justin has been part of the rowing community for over a decade, going back to his days as a collegiate competitor at UCLA. He is passionate about developing young people athletically, academically and in life. Justin has a plan for how we can achieve success and I look forward to working together to accomplish our vision for the Rutgers rowing program."
Price has been a part of successful programs, both as an athlete and a coach. But he has had limited head coaching experience. He has had, in a fairly short time, a good deal of international and club coaching experience; with relatively few high schools fielding rowing teams, the club programs may be important to his success. Among other experiences, Price coached the women's lightweight double sculls that won a bronze medal at the 2015 Pan American Games.
The former UCLA student-athlete coordinated all aspects of the Bruins' recruiting efforts while an assistant in Westwood. While serving as UCLA's recruiting coordinator, Price helped secure top recruiting classes, featuring elite American and international athletes that had competed at the Junior and Under-23 National Team levels before arriving at UCLA.
Price spent the summer of 2013 representing the United States as the coach of the Under-23 men's coxed four that finished 8th at the Under-23 World Championships in Linz, Austria while also serving as the men's under-23 head coach at Pennsylvania Athletic Club. Price also assisted at Notre Dame. During the 2007-08 season, his first full year with the Irish, Price coached two national championship novice crews as his student-athletes won both the novice eight and novice lightweight four at the American Collegiate Rowing Association's (ACRA) National Championship Regatta, leading to Notre Dame's third place finish overall at the 2008 ACRA Regatta; it was the best ever finish for the program.
"I want to thank Pat Hobbs, Sarah Baumgartner and Kate Hickey for the opportunity to lead the Rutgers rowing program. I am impressed by their vision for the direction of Rutgers Athletics and I am excited by what is possible," said Price. "With a world-class university, the waters of the Raritan River running right through campus, and the support of the athletic department, we will certainly have everything we need to compete at a high level. I am looking forward to meeting the student-athletes and getting to work building something very special."
Price said something that, to me, is very significant: “[with] the support of the athletic department, we will certainly have everything we need to compete at a high level.” That, it would seem, would mean a budget commensurate with other Big Ten schools to recruit and train. It would (should) mean the full support of Hobbs & Co. to make Rutgers more than the doormat of the Big Ten, which it has been for the three years we have been in the conference.
I’m going to be hopeful. No more participation trophies. Welcome, Coach Price.