Thursday, May 6, 2010

Uncharted waters: Kansas rowing jumping ship to join C-USA

Rowers on Kansas' Varsity 4 boat get warmed up before their race in the Big 12 Championships on Saturday, May 2, 209, at Wyandotte Co. Lake.

Rowers on Kansas' Varsity 4 boat get warmed up before their race in the Big 12 Championships on Saturday, May 2, 209, at Wyandotte Co. Lake.


While the NCAA braces for potential changes to the conference landscape, Kansas University’s rowing program has joined Conference USA as an affiliate member.

The move, which was announced Monday, is an attempt to climb one step closer to receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship in rowing.

Currently, the rowing championships are made up of at-large teams, making rowing the only team sport without automatic qualifiers. The NCAA recently announced, however, that, beginning in 2013, conference rowing champions would begin to receive automatic bids. One problem: In order to get the bid, teams have to be part of a conference, which is defined as a minimum of six teams.

That’s where the recent merger comes into play. KU will join the three other Big 12 teams — Kansas State, Oklahoma and Texas — along with Tennessee and Alabama from the SEC, and Tulsa, SMU and Central Florida from Conference USA in rowing only. This nine-team conference will compete under the Conference USA flag, but with each institution remaining a member of its current conference.

“One of the conditions of our doing this was that we did not want to lose the Big 12 moniker,” KU coach Rob Catloth said.

According to the NCAA, a conference must host two conference championships before it can qualify for automatic bids into an NCAA Championship. The first such event for Conference USA will be May 15-16 at the already-scheduled South-Central Regional Championships in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Although schools from across the nation will compete at the event, the new Conference USA rowing conglomerate will crown its 2010 champion based on how the teams fare in the event.

For instance, if Kansas were to place fourth at the South-Central Regional but No. 1 among the nine Conference USA rowing schools, it would be crowned champion.

Next season, the plan is for the Conference USA rowing teams to host their own nine-team championship, according KU associate athletic director Jim Marchiony.

The overall goal is for rowing to improve by inspiring schools and conferences to commit more money and resources to the sport, as lacrosse has in the past decade. Like rowing, lacrosse waited years before allowing automatic qualifiers into its NCAA Tournament.

“If you look on the bottom line on ESPN when the scores come across, you’ll see that a school like Fairfield is competing with a school like Johns Hopkins in lacrosse,” Marchiony said. “Twenty-five years ago, Hopkins would’ve beaten them 25-1. The point is, it’s made the sport better. It’s growing the sport, and that’s what they’re trying to do with rowing.”

Added KU athletics director Lew Perkins: “Our participation in the Conference USA Championship is a great opportunity for our program. The ultimate goal is to reach the NCAA Championships, and competing in the Conference USA Championship is a step in that direction.”

Marchiony also made sure to point out that the new conference alignment was in no way tied to the rampant rumors about superconferences that have dominated college sports talk in recent weeks.

“Not even in the same galaxy,” he said.


David Hewitt 12 years, 7 months ago

You may want to change this headline. Jumping ship strongly implies that they're leaving their current conference, and this is not even true in Rowing.

Redlandsjhawk 12 years, 7 months ago

But on the other hand it did get at least you and me to click on the story:)

David Hewitt 12 years, 7 months ago

I see they added "rowing" to the title at least. Originally it just said "Uncharted Waters: Kansas jumping ship to join Conference USA."

KU 12 years, 7 months ago

Looks like KU's rowing team is up a creek without a paddle.

Ben Kane 12 years, 7 months ago

this is a good move by the rowing team and athletic department. now go kick some rowing butt! RCJH

jayhawk2062 12 years, 7 months ago

Headlines are supposed to grab you. "Uncharted Waters" a pretty clever way of saying a sport involving water. Everyone is ridiculously negative on this website.

DutchMo 12 years, 7 months ago

I don't konw about this, conference USA from the big XII seems like a step down to me.

Code_2008 12 years, 7 months ago

Not when the Big XII has only 4 teams, and joining the C-USA (along with the other 3 Big XII schools and even 2 SEC schools will be joining in).

Gradhawk 12 years, 7 months ago

DutchMo, did you even read the article?

gardenjay 12 years, 7 months ago

No, rowing is a Title IX sport. Women only.

gardenjay 12 years, 7 months ago

.....well, except for coach Rob, who was a KU student athlete at one time as well. He was a great rower, and among other things represented KU at IRA Nationals at a time when there was no boathouse - and the shell was borrowed from K-State. He is one of the main reasons KU has a new boathouse, and KU cannot call him anything but dedicated.

I am so sorry for what happend with Title IX and the KU Crew - so typical though. NO one seems to factor in what is lost every year these unnatural situations persist. I would really like to live to see Coach Rob on a re-integrated KU Crew.

I also agree with others that it is a shame to have no men on the swimming team, when men are on high school swim teams. As a competetive swimmer, that's just another bad idea for student recruitment - for either men or women.

calgaryhawk 12 years, 6 months ago

In this and posts to other articles, gardenjay implies that the KU Crew is gone. As far as I know they are alive and well and include both men's and women's rowing ( In fact I visited with them in Natchitoches, LA during their spring break training trip this year. Granted, I would rather have both men's and women's rowing under a single umbrella at KU, but I see no reason for apologizing for the situation.

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