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Crew Program Frequently Asked Questions

When did crew get started at UNC?

The crew was officially established as a student club in 1969 by Craig Benepe. The UNC Crew Club did not take possession of its first two shells until February 1970. The first actual rowing by club members took place in 1970.

Female university students formed a women’s club in 1973.  Since the men’s and women’s clubs shared the same equipment and traveled to the same regattas, the two clubs were merged in 1989 for administrative purposes. In 1993, a Masters rowing program was created to foster a connection between undergraduate club members, other rowers within the larger university community and Chapel Hill residents. The Athletic Department elevated the women’s program to varsity status in 1997.

Is the level of University support for men's and women's crew equal?

The short answer is no. The Men’s Crew Club program is supported by Campus Recreation through student fees. Campus Recreation supports 51 organizations from a budget of $125,000. The Women’s Varsity program is supported through the Athletic Department. UNC Athletics (28 sports) reported their fiscal year 2017-2018 budget to the NCAA of total operating revenue of $104.6M against total operating expenses of $102.4M.

The longer answer is that the two department have different primary objectives.

Campus Recreation Objectives

  • Developing students through initiatives and opportunities to increase and build self-awareness, personal responsibility, leadership, critical thinking, communication, and interpersonal relationships.
  • Lowering the out-of-pocket expense burden on the student-athletes through student fees, fundraising opportunities, and administrative support.
  • Advise and support student officers to assist their efforts in leading and managing a student organization.
Athletic Department Objectives
The Athletic Department annually supports over 800 student-athletes across 25 sports.  Department objectives fall into three primary areas:
  • Student-Athletes
    • Support student-athletes’ academic goals, performance and efforts to graduate
    • Enhance and support the student-athlete experience from recruitment to graduation and beyond
    • Emphasize lifelong health and wellness
    • Optimize resources for team support and programming
    • Build, renovate and maintain outstanding facilities
  • Coaches and Staff
    • Nurture the Carolina family
    • Position all sport programs to annually achieve top three conference and top 10 national academic and athletic rankings
    • Improve inclusiveness, diversity and transparency in decision-making
    • Explore increasing financial and non-financial benefits
  • Carolina Community
    • Embrace our people-first culture
    • Expand our ability to tell the Carolina story and deliver the Carolina experience
    • Engage the campus community to further align athletics with the University’s mission

How much money does the men’s team get from Campus Recreation annually?

2017-2019

  • $11,000 – $11,500 annually

What is the size of the men’s crew club budget?

  • Approximately $125,000 annually

What is the expected individual contribution for each club athlete?

  • Novice:  $1300
  • Varsity:  $1600
  • + $0-500 for gear/per diems/etc.

What is the history of the University Lake boathouse?

In the first few years of the team’s existence, there was no boathouse – the team placed its boats on structures that were open to the elements. Sometime during the 1970s a pole building was erected that had a roof but no walls. Eventually walls were added thus making the actual single-bay building more secure. At some point during the 1980s the Sailing Club moved into the space as well. By 1990, the Sailing Club moved their equipment to a more conducive location.

As pressure to add space increased, the North Bay was added during the 1992-1993 season, thus doubling square footage. The South Bay was added in 1995. When Hurricane Fran hit Chapel Hill in September 1996, three towering pines fell through the roof of the Main Bay destroying the two original boats purchased in 1969-1970. Luckily, of the two dozen boats (all classes) contained within the building, no other boats were damaged. The boathouse has remained largely unchanged since.

Why are we building a new boathouse at University Lake vs. helping the existing team out, increasing the endowment, or paying a coach? Why now?

  • Building a more solid boathouse is part of a longer term plan to offer greater stability to the rowing program, develop some pride in all aspects of rowing at UNC, give ourselves a gift, and invest in the future of a program that we continue to engage
  • The longer term plan was originally addressed back in 2009 and initiated through the creation of an endowment for the men’s team in 2010 (at the 40th Anniversary)
  • The endowment for the men’s team currently sits at $137,162.25
  • We (Alumni, Campus Recreation, Student Affairs) are trying to address other areas as well (coaching, equipment, travel) through the endowment
  • Permanence = longevity both within the university and community
  • A more permanent facility will better protect the equipment and help maintain the equipment lifespan
    • Rodents and other creatures are currently making their home within the boats as they sit on the racks
    • Team expansions have necessitated the purchase of additional boats that reside on outside racks

The University is providing resources and professional personnel to support our fundraising efforts. It is only through the University’s support of this plan that we believe we can be successful. To date, all funds for the development of the University Lake boathouse plans have been paid by UNC Campus Recreation.

Where can I view the concept drawings for the proposed boathouse at University Lake?

Below are websites that include links to the conceptual drawings for the proposed University Lake boathouse, as well as a link to make a gift to the boathouse project:

The women currently train at Jordan Lake, a lake much larger than University Lake. Why doesn’t the University build a boathouse on Jordan?

  • The University currently does not own land on Jordan Lake (the women trailer their boats to the lake and launch from an existing private marina)
  • Potential sites at Jordan come with a number of building and environmental restrictions
  • Current university policy does not allow first year students to park on campus and thus transportation to a training venue must be part of the equation
  • Biking, running, or taking public transportation to Jordan is not a feasible option and would thus limit opportunity to so many who seek to make rowing part of their Carolina experience
  • The alumni spearheading the current effort along with University officials feel like building a more permanent facility at University Lake is the most viable option available
  • A facility at Jordan has not been ruled out though it’s viability may be several years if not decades away from fruition

How can I financially support the varsity women’s team?

There are three main avenues for making financial contributions to the Women’s Team.

  • Women’s Rowing Special Fund: This fund supports and supplements the annual operating budget for the team. Contributions to this fund will have an immediate impact on the current student athlete experience by allowing additional flexibility with travel, equipment, recruiting and team functions.
  • Women’s Rowing Operating Endowment: The Operating Endowment is managed by the University. Each year the team can apply a percentage of investment gains from the endowment to the operating budget. The long-term goal is to grow the endowment with the aim of creating a consistent funding source for the team’s annual operational costs.
  • The Ram’s Club: The Rams Club supports all of UNC Athletics, primarily through funding scholarships and facilities.

If you would like to learn more, please reach out to the current coaches:

Why don’t the men compete at the IRAs any more? What are ACRAs?

The answer has to do with the intersection and history of men’s rowing in the United States, the governance of women’s rowing (NCAA), university presidents and athletic directors, and federal regulations (Title IX).

  • In short, university presidents have to comply with NCAA rules in order for their athletic teams to compete at all NCAA-sanctioned events.
  • The Intercollegiate Rowing Association (IRA, founded in 1894), the governing body of men’s rowing, had historically rejected being folded into the NCAA (founded in 1906) and chose to run their own national championship using their own association’s rules.  These rules had allowed for both club and varsity athletes to compete in the same events.
  • In the early 2000s, IRA member school varsity program coaches came under increasing pressure from their own university presidents and athletic directors to push for a change in the association rules to fall under NCAA participation requirements.  The adoption of these rules brought varsity rowing programs into compliance with all other NCAA sports within their university at the cost of denying all club rowing programs an opportunity to compete at a single unified national championship.
  • The American Collegiate Rowing Association (ACRA, founded 2008) Championship was formed to allow all (both club and varsity) programs unable to compete at the IRA to hold their own national championship.
  • UNC competes at the ACRA regatta annually and is often among the top teams.