Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Former University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams is photographed in the stands during the Greater Victoria Invitational at CARSA Performance Gym at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, November 29, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Former B.C. university rowing coach ‘deeply sorry’ after complaints

Barney Williams says he’s been committed to ensuring no other member of the roster had a similar experience

The former head coach of women’s rowing at the University of Victoria says he was and remains “deeply sorry” to learn of the impact his leadership had on several ex-team members who filed complaints with Rowing Canada.

Barney Williams says in a statement he has been committed to ensuring that no other member of the roster had a similar experience since learning of the complaints filed after the 2018-19 season, his first with the team.

A three-person panel tasked with investigating allegations of aggressive and demeaning treatment found Williams’s interactions with one member of that team violated his responsibilities under Rowing Canada’s code of conduct and the National Coaching Certification Program code of ethics.

In a decision released Tuesday, the panel sanctioned Williams with a one-year suspension that would be reversedif he complies with certain terms, including mentorship by a coach evaluator and completing course work that emphasizes coaching ethics and working with developing athletes.

Williams says 2018-19 was a “challenging year as the program transitioned to new leadership and a new philosophy,” but he understands that as head coach he was expected to model the highest standard of conduct.

He says in a statement he has “learned so much” and wishes he could “go back to that first season and apply these learnings.”

The university announced Monday that Williams had resigned as the head coach of women’s rowing by mutual agreement as he and the athletic department determined it was in the best interest of the program.

“I want to thank the current team for their overwhelming support,” Williams says in the statement sent in an email on Wednesday.

The Rowing Canada decision says the panel appointed last fall heard from 16 witnesses and concluded Williams “knew or ought to have known” that the way he was communicating with one of the complainants was harmful.

It says Williams breached a section of the Rowing Canada code that expects participants to “refrain from any behaviour that constitutes harassment where harassment is defined as a course of comment or conduct that is known or ought reasonably to be known to be unwelcome.”

The panel also found Williams’s conduct at two “heated” meetings with a younger assistant coach had breached the national codes. That conduct amounted to harassment and was “inappropriate particularly given the power dynamic” between the two coaches, the panel decision says.

Williams denied that he had breached the codes and denied he was ever aware of negative effects his coaching had on the complainants, it says.

The panel could not conclude that Williams’s interactions with three other former rowers who filed complaints amounted to violations, it says.

“It is important to note that several women, many of them promising athletes, testified that (his) coaching led them to leave the sport prematurely to the detriment of the sport and to these athletes,” it decision says.

In a statement reacting to the panel’s decision, the University of Victoria says it has made several changes to its varsity sports program to “strengthen a safe and supportive environment for student-athletes.”

The changes include implementing a professional code for coaches, hiring a director of varsity performance sport and creating a student co-ordinator position to provide clear options for how students can raise concerns.

READ MORE: Rowing Canada sanctions former head coach of UVic varsity women’s team

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

UVic

Just Posted

North Okanagan business Hytec Kohler set up a COVID-19 vaccination clinic at the Spallumcheen plant Friday, May 14. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
More than half of eligible adults in Interior Health vaccinated

Over 365,000 vaccine doses have been administered throughout the Interior Health region

Traffic is backed up along Naramata Road after a semi-truck collided with a power pole on Fleet Road. (Jesse Day - Western News)
UPDATE: Expect long delays on Naramata Road

A semi-truck collided with a power pole and downed several lines

New Border Bruins owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk reps team colours with his young sons and wife Tracey. Photo courtesy of the Grand Forks Border Bruins
KIJHL’s Border Bruins sold to Grand Forks doctor

The league announced the sale Friday, May 14

Vikki and Don Holmberg with their three children Marshall, Ava and oldest Lexi who now lives on her own. The Penticton family is facing the prospect of homelessness after their rental home was sold, leading them to ask the community for help. (Contributed)
‘There’s just nothing’: housing crunch puts Penticton family on the brink of homelessness

Housing crisis something many in the city can likely relate to, says mother of three

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

Kelowna Law Courts. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Former Vernon teacher found guilty of historic sex crimes against minors

Anoop Singh Klair was found guilty of all eight charges against him in a Kelowna courtroom on Friday

The real estate market is hot in Vernon, and across the Okanagan. (John Dent photo)
North Okanagan home prices, demand continue to build

Single family home volumes up 200 per cent, worth average $647,000

An algal bloom on Wood Lake has residents concerned for the body of water's health. (Wendy Innes-Shaw)
‘Wood Lake looks seriously unwell’: Lake Country residents

Algal bloom appears to be getting worse, and stinky

A wildfire southeast of Vernon has been added to the BC Wildfire dashboard Friday, May 14, 2021. (BC Wildfire Service)
Wildfire sparks southeast of Vernon

The fire appears to be in a remote area east of Aberdeen Lake

Bradley Priestap in an undated photo provided to the media some time in 2012 by the London Police Service.
Serial sex-offender acquitted of duct tape possession in B.C. provincial court

Ontario sex offender on long-term supervision order was found with one of many ‘rape kit’ items

Rich Coleman, who was responsible for the gaming file off and on from 2001 to 2013, was recalled after his initial testimony to the Cullen Commission last month. (Screenshot)
Coleman questioned over $460K transaction at River Rock during B.C. casinos inquiry

The longtime former Langley MLA was asked about 2011 interview on BC Almanac program

Enderby’s Small Axe Roadhouse was the subject of nasty backlash after installing two busty beer towers. (Facebook)
Enderby bar’s busty beer taps to stay put despite backlash

‘Many folks have mansplained to us that we are sexist, misogynistic…’

Most Read