Monday, November 23, 2015

Controversy at Conibear Shellhouse? Possible Parting of Ways for Ernst, Huskies (UPDATES)

Launching from the docks at Conibear (Photo: B. Kitch)

There are rumors emerging from Seattle that longtime Washington coach Bob Ernst may be parting ways with the Huskies.

[Updated December 3, 9:00pm PST below]

Very little is known at this point, but it appears that there has been tension between Ernst and the athletic department at the University of Washington recently, which may have led to this possible departure.

Ernst is among the longest tenured rowing coaches in the U.S., having guided both the Washington Husky men's and women's programs during his 40-plus year career at Conibear. From gohuskies.com:
There are few coaches in collegiate athletics whose accomplishments mirror those of Bob Ernst's. Having completed 41 years at UW, the long-time crew coach has served as the face of the Husky crew program for decades. Ernst most recently led the Huskies to a fourth-place finish at the 2015 NCAA Championships, their first NCAA trophy since Washington's second-place finish in 2008. Ernst also led the Huskies to a second-place finish at the 2015 Pac-12 Championships.
(Read Ernst's full UW athletic department bio here.)

According to sources, Ernst offered to resign late last week, but later "changed his mind," and has not been at practice since that time. It is anticipated that more will be known within the next 48-72 hours.

Update: Tuesday, November 24, 10:00pm Pacific Standard Time

Multiple sources have reported tonight that Ernst and Washington have parted ways. We have reached out to UW for comment. More details to follow as they become available.

Update: Wednesday, November 25, 2:40pm Pacific Standard Time

RR has received the following press release from the University of Washington Athletic Department:

UW ANNOUNCES LEADERSHIP CHANGE ATOP WOMEN’S ROWING PROGRAM

SEATTLE - UW Director of Athletics Scott Woodward announced today that Head Women’s Rowing Coach Bob Ernst has been relieved of his duties, effective immediately. Ernst was in his 42nd year at Washington.

“After careful and thoughtful deliberation, I have made the decision that a change in leadership is necessary in our women’s rowing program,” Woodward said. “I am grateful for the many contributions Bob gave to Washington rowing, and I wish him the best moving forward.”

Assistant Coach Connor Bullis will assume interim head coaching duties of the program as a national search is conducted for a new women’s head coach.

Full Ernst media bio: http://bit.ly/1N8lyiU

Full Bullis media bio: http://bit.ly/1Oh3fgQ

Update: Saturday, November 28, 3:00pm Pacific Standard Time

Writer Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times reported in this story on Wednesday that the UW move to fire Bob Ernst came after crew members made complaints to the athletic department:
"A source with longtime ties to the school’s coaching ranks, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Wednesday dismissal came after complaints by crew members about Ernst’s coaching style were made to athletic department administrators."
Thanks very much to Baker and The Seattle Times for crediting RR with breaking the news on Monday in the above story.

Update: Thursday, December 3, 9:00pm Pacific Standard Time

Writer Geoff Baker of The Seattle Times published the below article, which gives the background story behind Ernst's departure from Washington Crew:

"Firing of UW crew legend Bob Ernst came after showdown with rowers, sources say"

The nature of the disagreement raises a number of issues for both sides that need to be carefully considered.

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This comes as a major shock given the Huskies' strong recruiting class and start to the season, which saw them finish the fall at no. 5 overall, according to our NCAA Rowing power rankings. We will continue to investigate this story and update when possible.

This post will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.

-RR

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