others. The other strong league is the Pacific
Ten (Pac- 10) league which includes, among others,
the Universities of California, Washington and
Crews from Harvard and Yale
Universities race in an annual
regatta in 1955 on the Thames
River in New London, Connecticut
For the season ending championships, the women
are organised under the rules and regulations
of the National Collegiate Athletic Association
(NCAA) and their championship event is a team
event which includes all crews of the women’s
programmes (first year rowers, lightweights and
varsity (senior) crews). Last year’s winner was
Stanford University of Palo Alto, California. The men
have different season ending championship events,
the highest level is the Intercollegiate Rowing
Association Championships (IRAs) held in Camden,
New Jersey. The winner last year was the University
of Washington from Seattle.
Through to the 1970s, rowing was dominated
by men. In 1972, a federal law was passed that
was to change the face of university rowing,
especially that of women’s rowing, in the country.
The law was called Title IX of the Educational
Amendments of 1972. Title IX prohibited
discrimination on the basis of sex under any
education programme or activity receiving federal
financial assistance. It took until 1979 for the
government to clearly define its application to
university sport. In essence, money spent on
athletic participation opportunities had to be
substantially proportionate to the gender of
student enrolment. Women’s rowing fitted well
in aiming for the balance between male and
female athletes as it required a large number of
athletes, especially in boating eights.
is the added attraction of rowing scholarships that
cover the costs of an athlete’s tuition and can also
cover living expenses. It also means that university
rowing programmes look to recruit athletes from
other countries to boost the winning potential
of their crews.
The eight has always been the backbone of
collegiate rowing and remains that way to this
day with the top competitions focusing on the
eight. A small number of universities offer sculling
but sweep rowing remains the dominant form.
The strength of this growing system of university
rowing was felt internationally when the US Naval
Academy (university) competed for the United States
and won the gold medal at the1920 Olympic Games
in the men’s eight. This was just the beginning. For
the next seven Olympic Games the men’s eight was
won by American collegiate boats.
As universities became compliant since that time,
rowing was one of the sports that offered good
participation opportunities and Title IX is cited
as the single greatest factor in the growth of
collegiate rowing programmes today.
Athletes can choose from over 200 universities that
have rowing programmes and, for women, there
Rowers who have come through the collegiate
system have been a major source of athletes
for the national team squad. This is especially
evident amongst women, and even more so
amongst the women’s eight. The USA women’s
eight finished second at the 2004 Olympic Games
in Athens and won gold four years later in Beijing.
The current World Best Time in both the men’s
and women’s eight is held by the United States. Of
the Olympic Champion women’s eight in Beijing,
all nine crew members rowed at university. Six
of them are currently in World Rowing’s top 10
athletes for 2009.
Please note, in the United States
the use of the word College or
University is almost synonymous.