By Cybele Zhang
Thursday afternoon, Stanford Athletics announced the retirement of Farwell Family Director of Men’s Rowing Craig Amerkhanian. The announcement comes as the third departure of a member of Stanford Athletics this week alone; Kissick Family Director of Sports Performance Shannon Turley was fired on Monday, and Goldman Family Director of Men’s Swimming Ted Knapp also announced his retirement on Monday.
Amerkhanian has led Stanford’s program for the last 19 seasons, and his departure mid-season comes as a surprise, according to rowers, especially since the Cardinal will compete in the Pac-12 Championship in exactly a month. Amerkhanian is a two-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, receiving the honor in both 2006 and 2009.
Rowers were informed of the departure Thursday afternoon during an emergency team meeting with little warning prior to Jaquish & Kenninger Director of Athletics Bernard Muir’s announcement.
“I appreciate Craig’s contributions over the last 19 years and wish him the best,” Muir said in a statement on GoStanford.com. “Craig established a foundation of hard work within his program while also prioritizing success in the classroom.”
The announcement comes following one first place and two second place finishes by Stanford’s Varsity Eights against Wisconsin on Sunday, April 14.
In his career, Amerkhanian has guided the Cardinal Varsity Eight to six top-10 finishes nationally, including third-place in 2009. Four other boats have also captured IRA national titles. Last season, the team won 22 Pac-12 All-Academic selections — the most in the conference for the second straight year.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with so many dedicated student athletes during my tenure,” Amerkhanian said in a statement on GoStanford.com. “I will especially cherish the relationships I have built and the strong culture of alumni support which eventually became synonymous with our program. With that said, at this time I must step away for personal reasons.”
The university has not further explained these “personal reasons.”
Assistant coach Niles Garratt will serve as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The team will compete for the first time without Amerkhanian in just over a week on Saturday, April 27 — facing off against California (Amerkhanian’s alma mater) in the Big Row.
This story will be updated as more facts come to light about the situation.
Contact Cybele Zhang at cybelez ‘at’ stanford.edu.