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

Plans to restore the ecology of Sidney Island include the eradication of fallow deer first introduced in the early 1900s. (Parks Canada/Submitted)
Parks Canada proposal calls for eradication of fallow deer on Sidney Island

Proposed eradication part of a larger plan to restore local ecology but obstacles remain ahead

A dramatic four-vehicle crash at the intersection of Government and Herald streets brings standstill in downtown Victoria on May 18. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
UPDATE: Downtown Victoria intersection reopens after 4 car crash injures passengers, slowed traffic

Traffic impacted after crash closes Government and Herald streets

The entrance to one of the tiny homes in Victoria’s Tiny Home Village. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)
Victoria Tiny Home Village resident evicted for lighting small fire

No damage or injuries, but zero-tolerance rule stands

A forest of dance-protesters outside the BC Legislature on April 11. These participants were doing the Dance for the Ancient Forest in support of the Fairy Creek blockade and against old-growth logging. (Zoë Ducklow/News Staff)
Arrests begin at Fairy Creek blockade on Vancouver Island

Five protesters arrested as RCMP begin to enforce injunction

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Little but fierce: Cat spotted chasing off coyote by Port Moody police

The black cat is seen jumping out from under a parked car and running the wild animal out of a vacant lot

A thunderstorm pictured in Fraser Valley in 2021. (Black Press Media/Jaimie Grafstrom)
Wildfire concerns sparked after 320+ lightning strikes blasted B.C. yesterday

Approximately one-quarter of the province is currently listed as being at moderate risk of fire

A restaurant server on White Rock’s Marine Drive serves customers on a roadside patio. Indoor dining and recreational travel bans have been in effect since late March in B.C. (Peace Arch News)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate falls to 411 cases Tuesday

360 people in hospital, up slightly, two more deaths

The Banff National Park entrance is shown in Banff, Alta., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Minister asks Canadians to camp carefully in national parks as season starts

Kitchen shelters in Banff National Park closed, trails on Vancouver Island will only be one-way

Names of those aboard the ship are seen at Komagata Maru monument in downtown Vancouver, on Tuesday, May 18, 2021. The City of Vancouver has issued an apology for its racist role in denying entry to 376 passengers aboard a ship that was forced to return to India over a century ago. Mayor Kennedy Stewart says discrimination by the city had “cruel effects” on the Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims aboard the Komagata Maru, which arrived in Burrard Inlet on May 23, 1914. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver mayor says sorry for city’s role in turning away South Asians in 1914

Kennedy Stewart has declared May 23 as the annual Komagata Maru Day of Remembrance

A crew of WestCoast WILD Adventures employees tackled an onslaught of litter left at the ‘Locks of Love’ fence at Wally Creek on May 2. (Anne-Marie Gosselin photo)
Litter woes consume popular ‘Locks of Love’ fence on B.C.’s Pacific Rim

Popular view spot near Tofino plagued by people hanging masks and other unwanted garbage

A game camera near the Klahoose reservation on Cortes Island caught this glimpse of a truck leaving the woodlot at around 2:30 on Sunday morning. Photo supplied by Klahoose First Nation
Indigenous cutblock vandalised on Cortes Island, anti-logging element suspected

Ribbons pulled down, gravel poured into gas tank at Klahoose First Nation site

Announced Tuesday, May 18 by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth, the province added gyms, dance and fitness studios to its list of places where face coverings are mandatory. (AP/Steven Senne)
Masks now required at all times inside B.C. gyms, including during workouts

Those who disobey could be subject to a $230 fine

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Most Read