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

A scene from the Schoolhouse Squat from October 2018, where Alliance Against Displacement members and supporters occupied the Rutherford Elementary School site, advocating for people experiencing homelessness. (News Bulletin file)
‘Schoolhouse Squat’ activists get conditional discharge in Nanaimo school occupation

Ivan Donald Drury, Tingchun (Listen) Chen sentenced in provincial court in Nanaimo

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of two shot by police in critical condition says Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Condemned building of the Twin Gables Motel in Crofton is not safe and yet a teen has been climbing around on the roof while others were ripping the siding off the building. (Photo submitted)
Destructive behaviour by teens wreaking havoc on Crofton

Residents becoming fed up with the constant vandalism and fires

A fire destroyed a commercial building on Idlemore Road early Tuesday. The fire is under investigation. (Kenn Mount photo)
Early morning fire destroys new Sooke distillery

Firefighters still investigating cause of Island Shiners Distillery blaze early Tuesday

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Experts now predict 33.6% rise in B.C. home sales for 2021

BCREA economists also predict home prices to increase by 14.3%

A boat caught on fire this morning (May 11) in Port Hardy. (Adam Harding/Port Hardy Fire Rescue Facebook photo)
Fishing boat catches fire in Port Hardy, owner’s quick thinking puts out flames

The incident is a good reminder to always have a working fire extinguisher onboard your boat

Most Read