Baylor crew weighs future as club team

The men's and women's crew teams competed in an event last weekend in Oklahoma. Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Branson Hardcastle | Reporter

Baylor crew, a collegiate co-ed rowing team, is looking to stake its claim on Baylor’s campus.

Baylor crew is a club team that competes against schools including the University of Texas, Texas Christian University and Rice University in rowing competitions in and around Texas.

The team competes in three categories: novice, collegiate and open. Novice is a difficult reserved for rowers who have one or fewer years of collegiate rowing experience. Rowers on the collegiate level have had one or more years or experience rowing in college. The open category is open to everyone from all skill levels to participate in.

Although crew is a club sport, the women’s teams compete against some Division I opponents. Division I rowing, affiliated with the NCAA, only consists of women’s teams. Men’s teams are only recognized as club teams. The NCAA only allows women rowing teams to be on scholarship at schools in order to comply with the standards set by Title IX, which states that men and women must be provided equal opportunity to participate in sports.

Waco senior and club president Will Brown said that crew has tried to become recognized as an NCAA Division I program, but failed in recent years. Brown also said that there has been discussions to push this agenda again, but it hasn’t gained much momentum.

“There hasn’t been a push for a while to make a team. Back in 2007 there was a big push for it. Last year and the year before there were some whispers about it but we didn’t push hard for it,” Brown said. “If it happens, then that’s great, but as for now, it’s not a priority.”

In order for the club to make a move to a Division I program, Baylor would have to have scholarships and the fundraising to put towards the program. The fundraising alone would be tough, Brown said, because rowing is an expensive sport.

A second problem it could face would be the number of male athletes on scholarships versus the number of female athletes on scholarships. The male-to-female ratio has to stay close in order for it to comply with Title IX rules.

Quincy, Ill., junior and assistant coach George Crickard said Baylor crew is content staying a club team.

“Staying a club has brought us closer as a team. It is a student-run organization, which gives us more responsibility. It gives us life skills that we are able to use and it gives us more flexibility as a program,” Crickard said. “We are not as competitive as a Division I program but we are still competitive. We are more about building friendships and relationships and having an overall good time.”

This past weekend, crew traveled to Oklahoma to compete in men’s and women’s events. The varsity men’s four team, men’s novice eight and men’s varsity eight teams all placed second overall in their events. The women’s varsity eight team set a personal record competing against Division I teams.

Crew is hosting the Head of the Brazos regatta from 8 to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Pedestrian Bridge. The event is open to the public.

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