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UNC rowing head coach resigns amid Title IX investigation


The women’s rowing practice room is located in the basement of Woollen Gym, pictured on Monday, Dec. 2, 2019. Head coach Sarah Haney resigned in the midst of a Title IX investigation into the program.

Update, 12/2, 4:13 p.m.: This story has been updated with public personnel file information provided by UNC Human Resources. The story has also been updated to better protect the anonymity of sources.

Update, 12/3, 3:32 p.m.: This story has been updated to include a statement from Sarah Haney provided to The Daily Tar Heel through the UNC Athletics department. The statement is listed below.

"I want to set the record straight: I am not the subject of any formal investigation by the University related to Title IX or any other matter. 

"As I stated Monday, I made the choice to resign as head coach of Carolina’s rowing program because I want to prioritize my family and spend more time with my two children. Stepping down was a difficult decision because I love Carolina and our rowing program, but this is the best choice for me. I again want to thank Carolina’s coaches and staff for all of their support, and I look forward to cheering on the Tar Heels as an alum and fan."

North Carolina rowing head coach Sarah Haney has resigned effective immediately, athletic director Bubba Cunningham announced in a statement Monday.

Haney’s resignation came five days after The Daily Tar Heel obtained, through an anonymous source close to the program, an email from Cunningham that confirmed the existence of a University Title IX office investigation into the rowing program. The University has removed Haney's profile from the school website.

The investigation follows complaints made by student-athletes against Haney, the head coach since 2002, and assistant head coach Anthony Brock, including alleged emotional abuse, injury negligence and sexual harassment, according to the person close to the program and a group of five current rowers, all of whom were granted anonymity by the DTH. There are 57 rowers listed on the team’s 2019-20 roster.

Neither Haney nor Brock replied to multiple requests for comment on the Title IX investigation via emails, phone calls and voicemails on Nov. 27, nor did they reply to email, social media messages, calls and text messages to their cell phones on Nov. 29.

Haney, 43, released a statement in Monday’s announcement of her resignation that did not address the allegations.

“It has been an honor to be a part of Carolina and our rowing program, and I have loved every opportunity that has been presented to me here,’’ she said in the statement. “Stepping down as head coach has been a difficult decision, but I want to prioritize more ‘mom’ time with my two young kids, and this is the best way to do it.

“Thank you to Bubba Cunningham, Dick Baddour, Beth Miller, Larry Gallo and Cricket Lane for your mentorship, and thank you to our Carolina coaches and staff for all of your support. It has been incredibly special to be a part of our rowing program from its very beginning – and I will continue to cheer on our students and all of our teams as an alum and a fan.”

Former UNC rowing head coach Sarah Haney. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications.

In a Monday statement to the DTH, a University spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny the existence of the Title IX investigation, citing student and employee privacy reasons, but said the University “take(s) the experience of our student athletes extremely seriously, and work(s) every day to create a positive environment for them in and outside of competition.”

“Protecting the well-being of the University community is our highest priority and responsibility,” the spokesperson said.

The University also provided public personnel file information on Haney and Brock from UNC Human Resources on Monday.

Those files list Haney's most recent salary at $120,000 and Brock's at $51,000. Brock's file lists no disciplinary actions against him in his UNC employment history.

The person close to the program first notified the DTH of the investigation’s existence. The group of rowers corroborated the existence of the investigation and the allegations against Haney and Brock.

The DTH also reviewed emails from Cunningham and Adrienne Allison, UNC’s director of Title IX compliance and Title IX compliance coordinator, that confirmed the investigation’s existence and rowers’ meetings with Title IX administrators.

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The emails were provided by the anonymous source and anonymous group of rowers. None of the emails provided any detail or confirmed any of the allegations.

Cunningham also issued a statement in the Monday release: “Sarah has played a key role in our rowing program since its inception, and I appreciate her hard work and commitment to Carolina as both a student-athlete and coach. She always will be a member of our Tar Heel family, and I wish her the very best in her future endeavors.”

UNC rowing assistant coach Anthony Brock. Photo courtesy of UNC Athletics Communications.

According to the rowers, the University began investigating Haney, Brock and the program in the late spring of 2019 after they brought the allegations to light in student-athlete surveys given to members of the team at the end of the spring rowing season. Rowers said this was the first time they had filled out surveys while they had been with the program.

The rowers said last week the investigation is expected to conclude shortly. In a Nov. 26 email reviewed by the DTH, Cunningham wrote that the Title IX Office would finish its report shortly.

The rowers and anonymous source said that as a result of the ongoing investigation, Brock, 45, who joined the program in 2014, has not coached the team since September. The rowers said the team was informed when Haney read a pre-written statement from the Title IX office before a practice in September. 

Allegations against Brock, the source close to the program said, include inappropriate touching and comments about athletes' appearance and sexuality. Rowers later alleged that Haney was aware and present for some of Brock's behavior and sometimes participated in making similar comments.

The rowers also alleged that Haney berated athletes on a regular basis and repeatedly ignored medical diagnoses and recovery plans of injured athletes.

Assistant coaches Emilie Gross and Thomas Revelle will serve as interim co-head coaches, according to the statement, while the search for a new coach will begin in the spring.

The North Carolina women's rowing team finished last in the ACC 12 times under Haney's 18 years as head coach, and second last six times. The program has never finished in the top half of the conference.

Sports editor Ryan Wilcox contributed reporting to this story.

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