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Ernst Returns to Helm of Women's Crew, Callahan to Coach Men
Release: 07/13/2007
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July 13, 2007

SEATTLE - Bob Ernst, who directed Washington to the 2007 men's national rowing championship, will return to his former position as women's head coach and Michael Callahan has been promoted to the men's head coaching post, Athletics Director Todd Turner announced Friday.

Ernst will continue to oversee both the men's and women's crew programs in his position as Director of Rowing.

"This is a great occasion for our rowing teams, to ensure that they will remain among the elite programs in the nation," Turner exclaimed. "Bob has proven himself to be one of the top men's and women's coaches in the world. Michael Callahan has just been excellent as our freshman coach and we are confident he will thrive in his new role as our men's head coach."

Ernst served as the UW men's coach the last 20 years, winning national championships with the varsity eight crew in 1997 and 2007. He led the Huskies to 11 conference championships and was honored as the Pac-10 men's coach of the year on 10 occasions.

Ernst returns to the UW women's head coaching post that he occupied from 1980-87. During his seven seasons, the Huskies won every Pacific Coast championship and captured six titles at the National Collegiate Rowing Championships. UW won five consecutive varsity eight national titles between 1981-85.

"It's exciting to be able to coach the women again. I coached the women for a long time and coached the guys for a long time. I just think this is in the best interest of Washington rowing," said Ernst, who received the Pac-10 Women's Coach of the Year award in 1987. "It's a great opportunity for us to continue the tradition of having a very competitive rowing program at the University of Washington."

Ernst coached the women's U.S. National Team from 1976-88, mentoring them during four Olympic Games' appearances. He directed the USA women's eight-oared crew to a gold-medal performance at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

A 1963 graduate of Costa Mesa (Calif.) High School, Ernst attended Orange Coast College for two years, where he played center on the 1963 national championship junior college football team and competed in swimming and water polo. He transferred to UC Irvine and continued his swimming and water polo career. Ernst was also a member of Irvine's rowing program in 1966 and 1967 and was team captain as a senior.

Bob Ernst


Ernst, who began his coaching career at his alma mater, earned a bachelor's degree in biology from UC Irvine in 1967 and his master's degree in sports administration from the University of Washington in 1979. He served as the UW men's freshman coach from 1974-80. Ernst was inducted into Irvine's athletic hall of fame in 1984 and the national rowing hall of fame in 1994.

Callahan takes over the men's rowing team after serving the last three years as the freshman coach. He recruited the athletes in this year's championship varsity eight crew. Many of those rowers were members of Callahan's 2006 national champion freshman eight crew.

In addition to the gold medal in 2006, his freshman crews collected bronze medals in 2005 and 2007.

"I am honored to be selected by Athletics Director Todd Turner as the ninth men's head rowing coach at the University of Washington in its storied 106-year history," Callahan declared. "I couldn't inherit a higher achieving program than the one Bob Ernst is handing over to me. My challenge of living up to the standard of excellence Bob has set for this position is enormous.

"With the strongest Athletic Department and alumni support for rowing in the country, I am looking forward to working hand-in-hand with Bob as we continue the overall program's goal of being the strongest rowing program in the Pac-10 and the nation."

Michael Callahan


Callahan graduated from Washington in 1996 with a bachelor's degree in history. He served as the captain of the 1996 team and rowed on four Pac-10 champion crews.

After graduation, Callahan joined the men's U.S. National Team, winning a bronze medal at the 1995 Under-23 World Rowing Championships, followed by a gold medal at the 1996 U-23 regatta. He was a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Rowing Team.

Callahan has also been active as a coach on the national level, serving on the United States Under-23 team staff.

The Husky men's job will be Callahan's first head coaching position at the collegiate level.

"It's a great opportunity for Michael Callahan. We have the ultimate respect for the job he's doing with the guys," Ernst said.

Executive Associate Athletic Director Jeff Compher was in charge of filling the women's head coaching position after the departure of Eleanor McElvaine, who served four seasons.

"We set out to find the best women's coach in the country and we found him in our own backyard," Compher explained. "The Washington women's program has a renewed opportunity to be at the top on a national level and we expect to be there soon under Bob's leadership."

Washington is one of only three schools to receive team invitations to all 11 championships since the NCAA began sponsoring women's rowing in 1997. UW won national team titles in 1997, 1998 and 2001. The Huskies finished 10th in the team standings at the 2007 NCAA regatta.

"Our rowing program couldn't be in better hands with Bob's longtime history of success in women's rowing and Michael's ability to continue the level of excellence that the men's team has established," Compher concluded.

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