Suspended Kansas Rowers Talk of Power-Hungry Coach

Paul Steinbach Headshot

A member of the University of Kansas women's rowing team feels the school is taking too long to investigate a social media scandal that has forced her and six teammates to miss three rowing events this season — equivalent to the suspension received had they failed a drug test for the second time.

The seven suspensions were issued in late March after coaches discovered the rowers had created alias social media accounts, a violation of section 501 of the Kansas Athletics Policies and Procedures Manual, which states, "I will not create fake or alias social media accounts. I understand that any information placed on any social media site is a reflection of me, my team, Kansas Athletics and the University of Kansas."

Two of the seven rowers spoke to The University Daily Kansan on the condition they would remain anonymous. One of them, a junior, decried a lack of communication between administrators, coaches and the suspended athletes, who are awaiting any word regarding their potential reinstatement. Only two events remain on the Kansas rowing schedule — the Sunflower Showdown and Big 12 championships — before the NCAA championships are held in late May.

The two rowers also question why seven were suspended, claiming administrators and coaches are aware of at last 30 women on the team who have launched alias social media accounts. "It seems really targeted and very selective about who they have chosen to suspend and who they chose to keep on the team, and they’re really been horrible about communicating,” said the other rower who spoke to the Kansan.

According to the junior rower, the atmosphere surrounding the team changed at the start of the 2017-18 season, when Carrie Cook-Callen took over from long-time head coach Rob Catloth. Since becoming head coach, Cook-Callen has made changes to the student-athlete contract — ranging from the rule about alias social media accounts to a ban on the wearing of eye masks during team flights. 

“I would say it was a lot better” under Catloth, the junior said, “because you could kind of complain about him, then you’d go home and your life would still be your life. But coach Callen has just taken over everything, and you can’t really get away from her.

“I just feel like KU Athletics and the coaching staff just need to be held accountable because they’ve just had so much power for so long, and it’s all gone to their heads.”

Buyer's Guide
Information on more than 3,000 companies, sorted by category. Listings are updated daily.
Learn More
Buyer's Guide
AB Show 2023 in Baltimore
AB Show is a solution-focused event for athletics, fitness, recreation and military professionals.
Nov 1-4, 2023
Learn More
AB Show 2023