Rowing New Zealand high-performance director Alan Cotter resigns
Rowing New Zealand high-performance director Alan Cotter has announced his resignation ahead of the world championships in Plovdiv.
Cotter, a former coxswain who won World Rowing Championship medals with the NZL M8+ in 1978 and 1979, had been in charge of the high-performance programme since after the 2008 Beijing Olympics. He succeeded Andrew Matheson who left after the Beijing to join Rowing Australia. Cotter apparently revealed his resignation to athletes and staff on Friday morning.
Rowing New Zealand is currently undertaking a review into the culture and set-up at the organisation and said in a statement that Cotter resigned so the organisation could “continue to look forward…” Cotter is apparently staying on to oversee the team at the 2018 World Rowing Championships in Bulgaria next month.
In their statement issued Friday, Rowing NZ says, “The review will remain confidential out of the respect to those who participated in the process. Key themes identified in the review are being acknowledged and steps will be taken to continue to put the culture and care of our people first. To confirm, there have been no formal complaints or allegations made against our High Performance Director Alan Cotter, who has decided to leave while the sport is continuing to perform well on the international stage.”
The review is reported to be looking at rowing’s culture and whether the desire for medals was being prioritised over athlete well-being. Athletes talk of a culture of fear and a lack of transparency in the sport. The NZ Herald is reporting that athletes were not privy to their trials data resulting in a team selection process on the basis of data which wasn’t readily available determining whether an athlete earned enough income to remain in the sport.
Rowing NZ said, “The well-being of our athletes and the culture of our organisation is paramount to everything we do. We are constantly evaluating how we are performing both on and off the water. It is important we are not looking backwards at the outcomes of campaigns but continue to look forward, so we can refresh and continually improve to maintain our place as world leading in the high-performance environment. Alan Cotter agreed to resign for this to occur”.
Cotter’s departure is the latest in a string of high-profile resignations as a result of athlete revolts and/or independent reviews. Last month, Cycling New Zealand sprint coach Anthony Peden resigned after accusations of bullying, as did national football coach Andreas Heraf. Netball New Zealand coach Janine Southby also stepped down in July after a review into the team’s disappointing fourth placing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The full text of the Rowing New Zealand statement can be found here.