10 August 2018
By Göran R Buckhorn
Rowing New Zealand High Performance Director, 61-year-old Alan Cotter, who has been in the organisation since 2008, unexpectedly resigned today, Friday, the day after the organisation announced the team to compete at the World Championships on 9 – 16 September in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. Cotter’s resignation was confirmed by Rowing NZ.
During the day, New Zealand media have speculated what caused Cotter to leave. An independent review has looked into the culture of Rowing NZ and reports have suggested that members of the national team were unhappy that success and medals were being prioritised over their own welfare.
Rowing NZ says high performance director Alan Cotter ‘agreed’ to resign and have refuted reports he did so amid allegations of athlete unrest. Rowing NZ sent out a statement saying that ‘no further comment from Rowing NZ on this matter’. The statement reads:
Rowing NZ refutes the current media claims being made against its High Performance Director, Alan Cotter, and its High Performance program.
We can confirm that our own internal review began in April this year, two years on from Rio, and two years out from Tokyo 2020. It was timed at this midpoint to provide insights free from the emotions that can surround ‘pinnacle’ events, like the Olympics.
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.
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.
Please be advised there will be no further comment from Rowing NZ on this matter.
Alan Cotter’s last day as Rowing NZ High Performance Director will be on 21 September.
Several controversies have rocked Rowing New Zealand’s boat in recent years, NewsTalkZB writes here.
Goran, this is not the only dispute around athletes whose “Faces don’t fit”. Take a look at Joe Sullivan – multiple Olympic medalist who takes a year out and then is not selected into the team again; or Emma Twigg who took a year out to study in Europe and was dropped; and Fiona Burke who was under intense mental pressure to take over Twigg’s 1x slot to fill in for her while World Champion in 2x and then left the sport having under-performed.
There probably is more to this than meets the eye.