PHOTO AND STORY COURTESY SMU
DALLAS (SMU) – Chase Graham has been named head rowing coach at SMU, Director of Athletics Rick Hart announced today. Graham comes to the Hilltop from Duke, where he served as associate head coach and recruiting director.
Graham joined the Duke staff in August of 2015 and served as an assistant coach with the Blue Devils for his first two seasons before being promoted to most recent role in June of 2017.
“We are excited to welcome Chase and his family to the Hilltop. He has a great vision for SMU rowing, and will build upon our championship culture, positioning our program for continued national prominence,” said Hart. “I’d also like to thank Josh Whittenburg for leading this search, with support from Bowlsby Sports Advisors, as well as members of the search committee for the time and energy they dedicated to this process.”
“I am grateful to be named SMU’s next head rowing coach. SMU has a great vision for the rowing program and I am excited about what is ahead,” Graham said. “I am thankful for my time at Duke and I want to thank my student-athletes, Head Coach Megan Cooke Carcagno and our other coaches and staff with whom I have had the pleasure of working over the past eight years. I can’t wait to get to the Hilltop and start this new challenge. “
In 2023, Duke saw its best finish in program history, placing 14th at the NCAA Championships. In their four prior appearances, the Blue Devils finished 17th overall with 45 points in 2016, 16th with 47 points in 2019, 16th with 55 points in 2021 and 16th with 45 points in 2022.
In 2022, Graham oversaw Duke’s Second Varsity Eight boat, which shot out of the gate with a win in each of its first seven races of the season. That stretch included a three-race sweep at the Oak Ridge Cardinal Invite, as well as victories over No. 4 Michigan and No. 9 Ohio State at the Big Ten/ACC Double Dual that garnered ACC Crew of the Week honors. The 2V8 went on to collect nine total first-place finishes during the spring campaign and earned bronze in the Grand Final of the ACC Championship at Clemson. That marked the third consecutive season that Graham guided the 2V8 to a spot on the ACC podium. At the NCAA Championships in Sarasota, Florida, the 2V8 advanced to the C Final for a third straight season, taking third with a time of 6:42.825.
In 2021, Graham worked closely with Duke’s 2V8 crew that took first place in five races throughout the spring season. The boat turned in a historic performance at the NCAA Championships, claiming first in the C Final with a time of 6:43.416. It marked the Duke program’s third all-time victory in an NCAA C Final, two of which came in the 2V8 event.
Graham played a key role in boosting Duke’s recruiting prowess throughout the country, as some of the team’s greatest contributors have been underclassmen in recent years. Namely, Amelia Shunk was named the ACC Freshman of the Year in 2019 after helping the varsity-4 boat win the first gold medal in program history at the conference championship meet, and later, a Megan Lee (first team) and Morgan Linsley (honorable mention) were named Pocock/CRCA All-Americans.
In addition to attracting top talent from numerous regions in the U.S., Graham has also helped sell the program internationally, as recent signees include natives of England, New Zealand and Australia, among other countries.
During the 2016-17 season, Graham oversaw the V4 and 2V4 boats, with the 2V4 being named the ACC Crew of the Week in March. His two units took first place at the season-opening Carolina Cup, and then headed to the Longhorn Invite, where the 2V4 outpaced Texas, Notre Dame and Iowa.
Both boats also brought home titles at the Dale England Cup with the V4 finishing in 7:45.7 and the 2V4 in 8:01.3. Graham then led both crews to the ACC Championship Grand Final, with the V4 earning third place and the 2V4 claiming fourth.
In 2015-16, his first season on the Duke staff, Graham helped the program earn its first NCAA Championships selection after winning silver at the ACC meet. For his efforts, he was part of the Duke coaching staff that received CRCA National Staff of the Year and Region III Staff of the Year accolades.
The V4 boat captured the C Final at the NCAA Championships and took second at the ACC Championship Grand Final in 2015-16. The crew tallied the Blue Devils’ lone win at the Pac-12 Challenge, as it downed UCLA with a time of 7:21.5, and also turned in a standout performance at the Dale England Cup with two victories
Graham joined Duke after four years as the head junior girls coach at Saugatuck Rowing Club in Westport, Connecticut.
With Saugatuck, Graham helped the 2015 V8 and varsity lightweight 8 to the Youth National Championship. His V8 went undefeated and took first place at the Head of the Charles, San Diego Crew Classic, Youth National Championship and Club National Championship.
In 2014, his varsity lightweight 8 claimed second place at the Youth National Championship while his 4+ was the Club National Champion.
In 2013, Graham coached the women’s single at the Junior World Rowing Championships in Trakai, Lithuania.
Graham began rowing at Parkersburg South High School in West Virginia, where he competed for Midwest and scholastic national championships. After graduating high school, Graham went on to row at Marietta College from 2003-07. He was named the team’s Most Improved Oarsman in 2004.
He rowed with the V8 for three years and helped lead the team to a Varsity 8 Dad Vail Championship in 2006. Graham earned a bachelor’s degree in management and minor in sport management in 2007.
While pursuing a master’s in education, Graham continued training in the men’s pair and won a Club National Championship as well as claiming a third-place finish at the Canadian Henley Regatta. During his time training and completing his education, he served as a women’s graduate assistant coach at Marietta College for two years. He helped lead his squad to a Mid Atlantic Division III Championship while also playing an important role in recruiting.
In 2009, Graham began coaching the women’s rowing program at Fairfield University. During his first year at Fairfield, he led his squad to the program’s first Dad Vail Championship.