Virginia women's rowing coach Kevin Sauer says this will be his final season

Published May. 10, 2024 3:56 p.m. ET

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Kevin Sauer, who coached Virginia's women's rowing program to two NCAA championships, 22 Atlantic Coast Conference titles and nine NCAA team event championships in 29 years, has announced he will retire at the end of the season.

Initially hired as the Virginia Rowing Club's second full-time coach in 1988, Sauer oversaw the elevation of the women's team to varsity status in the fall of 1995. He will continue leading the Cavaliers through this year's ACC and NCAA championships.

“This has been an incredible ride and I have enjoyed almost every minute,” Sauer said in a statement Thursday. “I have appreciated all of the great support from administration, staff, assistant coaches, boatmen, parents and alumni. And, most of all, the student-athletes have been awesome and I’ll miss that the most.

“I have spent all these years working with those that are fairly fortunate, so in retirement I’d like to spend my time helping those less fortunate and with our church," he said, adding that another priority is spending more time with family.


“I know this program will thrive going forward and I cannot wait to watch and support them. ... But our immediate emphasis is to finish this season well with ACCs next weekend and NCAAs two weeks later,” he said.

Virginia won NCAA titles in 2010 and 2012 and has dominated the ACC, winning 22 of 23 ACC regattas, including the last 13. The Cavaliers have won 90 of the 100 events at ACC regattas and had 18 crews be named ACC Crew of the Year. Sauer has been the ACC Coach of the Year 14 times.

“There may not be anyone who represents what Virginia athletics stands for more than Kevin Sauer,” Virginia athletic director Carla Williams said. “For almost 30 years, he has directed our women’s rowing program, ushering it from its infancy to winning national championships.”

Before coaching at Virginia, Sauer served two stints as head coach at Purdue, his alma mater, from 1979-82 and from 1986-87. He's a two-time Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) National Coach of the Year (2010 and 2012).

Under Sauer’s tutelage, 46 rowers have earned 62 Pocock Racing Shells All-America honors, and he has had 106 All-ACC selections. Virginia has had multiple All-Americans in 20 of the last 21 years and at least one rower on the first team in 21 of the last 23 seasons.

Sauer made his Olympic debut in 2016 in Rio, coaching former Cavaliers two-sport athlete Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek in the women’s double sculls. He's also been a five-time coach of the U.S. Under-23 national team, guiding American boats to gold medals in 2007, 2010, 2015, 2018 and 2022.

“Every coach hopes for the ability to walk away and say ‘I did it my way, I did it the right way’ and look in the mirror and say ‘I have no regrets because of how I conducted my program,’” Cavaliers basketball coach Tony Bennett said. “He’s the kind of coach you would want your own children to be influenced by.”


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