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

Regional District of Nanaimo directors discussed asking the provincial government for increased funding, awareness and enforcement against human trafficking. (File photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo asking province to better address human trafficking issue

Directors agree to write to the premier and solicitor-general after hearing from advocate

Kwalikum Secondary students are happy with the first edition of the ‘Kwalikum Observer’. (Submitted photo)
KSS students produce first issue of ‘Kwalikum Observer’ newspaper

Editor says the paper offers a good outlet for students

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

A vial of AstraZeneca vaccine is seen at a mass COVID-19 vaccination clinic in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, April 22, 2021. Dr. Ben Chan remembers hearing the preliminary reports back in March of blood clots appearing in a handful of European recipients of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Science on COVID, VITT constantly changing: A look at how doctors keep up

While VITT can represent challenges as a novel disorder, blood clots themselves are not new

Poached trees that were taken recently on Vancouver Island in the Mount Prevost area near Cowichan, B.C. are shown on Sunday, May 10, 2021. Big trees, small trees, dead trees, softwoods and hardwoods have all become valuable targets of tree poachers in British Columbia as timber prices hit record levels. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jen Osborne.
Tree poaching from public forests increasing in B.C. as lumber hits record prices

Prices for B.C. softwood lumber reached $1,600 for 1,000 board feet compared with about $300 a year ago

Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Sinikka Gay Elliott was reported missing on Salt Spring Island on Wednesday, May 12. (Courtesty Salt Spring RCMP)
Body of UBC professor found on Salt Spring Island, no foul play suspected

Sinikka Elliott taught sociology at the university

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

The first Black judge named to the BC Supreme Court, Selwyn Romilly, was handcuffed at 9:15 a.m. May 14 while walking along the seawall. (YouTube/Screen grab)
Police apologize after wrongly arresting B.C.’s first Black Supreme Court Justice

At 81 years old, the retired judge was handcuffed in public while out for a walk Friday morning

Queen Elizabeth II and Clive Holland, deputy commonwealth president of the Royal Life Saving Society, top left, virtually present Dr. Steve Beerman, top right, with the King Edward VII Cup for his drowning-prevention work. Tanner Gorille and Sarah Downs were honoured with Russell Medals for their life-saving resuscitation. (Buckingham Palace photo)
Queen presents Vancouver Island doctor with award for global drowning prevention

Dr. Steve Beerman receives Royal Life Saving Society’s King Edward VII Cup at virtual ceremony

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)

Most Read