The Differences Between the Women’s and Men’s Rowing Teams Explained

The Manhattan College Women’s Division 1 Rowing Team on the water in November 2021. @MANHATTANROWING/ COURTESY

By Jilleen Barrett and Kelly Cwik, Managing Editor/Features Editor & Staff Writer

The Manhattan College rowing program is not just categorized by different genders – the teams are also housed under completely different departments at the college. While both teams have common experience, there is one uncommon factor: the women compete in NCAA Division I while the men participate in meets with club status.

The men’s team reports to student engagement and receives their funding from the Student Government Association, similarly to other clubs on campus. Contrasting to this, the women’s team is run by and receives their funding from the Manhattan College Athletic Department. As a club team, the Men’s Club Rowing Team is not compelled to follow rules and guidelines set by the NCAA. Instead, the team must follow the rules and guidelines established by either the institution or the collegiate club conferences. The men’s team does not receive any athletic aid while the women’s team receives a small amount of athletic scholarship to obtain potential recruits. 

However, an anonymous source familiar with the program claims that “the men’s team has a seemingly larger budget.” 

Upon hearing this claim, the Quadrangle decided to do a comparison between the two teams to investigate how they operate, and the main differences between the way they are treated by the school.

The Manhattan Men’s Club Rowing Team has a total budget of 69 thousand dollars according to John Bennett, assistant vice president of the Office of Student Engagement. Bennett wrote to the Quadrangle what the team’s expenses are.

“The overwhelming majority of the men’s crew budget goes towards expenses directly related to getting the boats in the water – from boathouse rentals, payments for the boats themselves, to transportation,” Bennett wrote. “There are also smaller expenses, though they all add up, of things such as registration fees, meals and uniforms.”

The Women’s Rowing Team has many of the same expenses. Rental of their boathouse in Overpeck, NJ costs about 25 thousand dollars a year and truck rentals costs about five5 thousand dollars. In an email to the Quadrangle, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Marianne Reilly gave a lay out of what both teams have covered in their budgets. 

“Both teams have racing shells, oars, coaches launches, trailers and ergometer rowing machines purchased from within their budgets and fund-raised donations … MC Athletic and Student Engagement Budgets fund the above plus all uniforms, regatta entry fees, travel expenses, launch gas, etc.”

When asked about the time commitment of the rowers and coaches, Bennett is definite in saying there is no difference in the expectations.

“There is no difference in how they act, our expectations, their practice times, or the overall time required for them to commit to the team as compared to our other Division I student-athletes, which is to say, it’s a huge commitment for them and all our D1 student-athletes,” Bennett wrote.

The Women’s Varsity Rowing Team has a part-time head coach, Alex Canale, and one volunteer assistant coach. When discussing the differences in the team’s budgets, Reilly addressed how much the head coach is paid.

“I don’t want to put numbers out there to insult people but that way, but I can tell you it’s nothing to make a living on,” said Reilly. “It’s about 20 thousand dollars.”

Reilly did not disclose how much the men’s coach makes. She did, however, address why the women’s coach is not working full time.

“I’ve considered this position for a full time elevation,” she said. “That’s not always my call, you know, I can think of all the reasons why to petition for it. Especially when it has the capability of bringing in numbers of people that want to row and they don’t ever have to be a rower. You can be just a good athlete. And if you’re taught the skills, you can row.”

Reilly spoke about how a friend of hers worked at the University of Massachusetts as a rowing coach, and how she learned about equity in athletics from that coach’s experience.

“So we had a dear friend who used to coach UMass rowing,” Reilly said. “And one of the reasons why UMass women’s rowing took off was to balance the UMass football program … when you have football, you have a lot of men in your athletic program … Rowing has the potential to bring it and if you have a novice program and a varsity program, you can bring up to 80 people into a program. So it is something that’s on the table for discussion.”

As for scholarships for the rowers themselves, there is a definite difference between the two teams.

“The NCAA permits a Division I school to get up to 20 full scholarships. We do not even come close to that — we’re probably at about three,” Reilly said. “The men’s program has [none], because they’re not a varsity program.”

Although the NCAA allows scholarships to be given to up to 20 athletes on a team, the school only has enough for three of the women’s rowers. Reilly explained that it is not possible to give more until they are able to strengthen the program, which she says they plan to do.

“The college gets a certain amount of money for programs,” Reilly said. “So it’s nice when you sprinkle it across the board to everybody. You give everybody a little piece of the pie, but no one gets filled … You have to look at what you want to be good at and focus your attention there. Does that program have the full time staff that it needs, does it have the assistant coaches that it needs, does it have the scholarship allotment and the operating budget? And then what’s the potential for fundraising? What’s the potential for alumni relations and that camaraderie and stuff? … So there’s a struggle, there’s a plan to make this better … there’s a plan that we’re trying to enhance our programs.”

She continued.

“All of the programs are important to us, but there are programs that we have to put an emphasis on and then have expectations that they’re going to have a return on that investment,” Reilly said. “That’s really important. Rowing is not there yet.”

In addition to the budgets being slightly different, there are some logistical discrepancies between the way the two teams operate given the women’s team is Division I and the men’s operate as a club.

According to John Bennett, the men’s team does not have the privilege of getting priority registration as Division I athletes do, their roster is not regularly updated on GoJaspers and they do not get blocked off time in the weight room. They do, however, get the chance to compete against Division I teams despite being a club themselves.

“All the regattas that the men’s crew team participates in are against Division I teams — there can be an outside perception that that is not the case based on how they’re labeled here, but that’s just a misconception,” Bennett wrote. “This is far from an intramural; they’re at meets against Power 5 schools, Ivy League schools, etcetera and more than holding their own.” 

While the teams’ budgets may look different in some ways, Reilly spoke in person with The Quadrangle about some of the ways the rowing teams share a common experience with one another, including when they travel to tournaments together.

“You’ll see that parents from both the men’s and the women’s side come together and they have pregame tents and they bring the food and everything, and so it is like one big family even though one’s varsity and one’s a club. And so that’s what we try to achieve — we never try to make one feel, you know, superior to the other … They should both have a really nice experience,” Reilly said.