Regime Change for Rutgers Women’s Rowing

By Connor Walters

Max Borghard’s career as head coach of the Rutgers University women’s rowing program spanned a lot of history. He guided the Scarlet Knights to a full-team bid in 1997 when the first NCAA women’s rowing championships were held. He also witnessed the downgrading of his alma mater’s men’s program from varsity to club status in 2008.

After more than two decades at the helm, and amid challenges in adapting to membership in the Big Ten, Borghard and his team of assistants resigned in late May, according to the Rutgers student newspaper, The Daily Targum.

In a statement, Borghard said, “It was an honor to work at Rutgers and I want to thank all the oarswomen who passed through the boathouse over the years. The women’s rowing program has grown tremendously and is in a good position to have great success in the years to come. I also want to thank all my assistant coaches for all their hard work.”

Rutgers has one of the nation’s oldest collegiate rowing programs, founded more than 150 years ago. Borghard followed his father, Al, to Rutgers and contributed to the men’s team’s success as a lightweight captain. He stroked the team’s lightweight eight to two consecutive bronze medals at the Eastern Sprints before graduating in 1987.

Borghard was named head women’s coach in 1995. In the early days of women’s NCAA competition, his crews found success, qualifying for the championship regatta in 1997, 1998, and 2001, then as members of the Big East Conference. In their final years with the Big East, they finished in the middle of the pack.

The 2014 move to the Big Ten has proven challenging for the program. The Scarlet Knights finished last in team points at the conference championships each year since they made the move. The situation has mirrored the world of college football, as Ohio State and Michigan have become the powerhouses of Big Ten women’s rowing.

The university said it will be conducting a national search for its next head coach as it looks to bring the women’s program back to the championship stage.