Steve Peterson resigned as director of rowing and women’s rowing head coach earlier this month to accept the women’s head coaching job at the University of Indiana-Bloomington. This leaves the GW women’s rowing team in search of a coach with just more than a month before the fall season begins.
GW Director of Athletics Jack Kvancz said Peterson left for professional and financial reasons, after seven years at GW.
“Money always plays a factor,” he said. “The other thing is that we will always have a good program, but if he wants to have a very good program, then the logical thing for him is to find something else.”
Kvancz said he tried to keep Peterson at GW by offering him a raise but could not match Indiana’s resources. As a Hoosier, Peterson will reportedly have a much larger operating budget and salary, along with the chance to work in a more prestigious conference, the Big Ten. Indiana has a solid rowing program, as its varsity boats seldom finished outside the top three in events last season.
Peterson is currently in Milan coaching the U.S. national rowing team and could not be reached for comment.
A former member of the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team, Peterson helped guide the GW women’s squad to national respectability over his seven years, compiling a 205-117 (.637) record and a 132-50 (.725) record with the women’s varsity eight, a boat he coached to the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships in 1998.
GW’s varsity eight never finished lower than second in the Atlantic 10 during Peterson’s tenure and the women’s rowing team has had four consecutive second-place finishes, earning Peterson two A-10 Coach of the Year honors.
“Steve’s a very good coach with tremendous credentials, and it was a matter of time before somebody realized it.” Kvancz said. “We were fortunate to have him, he did a great job for us, but now he’s moving on. It’s unfortunate, but that’s the way it is.”
The athletic department is currently looking for Peterson’s replacement and Kvancz said he would prefer to find one person to run both the entire rowing program and coach the women, as Peterson did. Varsity men’s coach Matt Boyle, men’s novice coach Jim O’Connor and women’s novice coach Helen Betancourt will all be considered, Kvancz said, adding that time is an issue with the fall season approaching.
“We would have to do it by the end of the month,” he said. “The slot will be open September first, and the goal is to have someone by then.”
Junior co-captain Kristen Salman called Peterson “the glue that held this team together” but said “without him, it will just be another obstacle we’ll have to overcome.”
-Brian Costa and Jeff Nelson contributed to this report.