The University of Iowa has announced that Mandi Kowal, the only head coach in the 18-year history of the women’s rowing program, has resigned her position. The announcement was made Wednesday by Director of Athletics Gary Barta.
In addition to directing the Hawkeye rowing program, Kowal was instrumental in the planning and designing of the multi-million dollar Beckwith Boathouse that now serves as the home facility for the Iowa rowing program.
“We appreciate Mandi’s commitment to the University of Iowa and the rowing program,” said Barta. “She is an outstanding person and we thank her for her dedication to her student-athletes and her contributions to the UI athletics department.”
Kowal, a member of the United States National Rowing Team for five years (’83, ’84, `86-’88), has headed the Iowa program since it was elevated to varsity status in 1994. Under her direction, Iowa’s Varsity four was invited to the first-ever NCAA Rowing Championships in 1997. The Varsity 4+ finished the season fourth in the country. In 1998, the Hawkeyes’ Varsity 4+ returned to the NCAA Championships, ending the season with an eighth-place finish.
In 2001, Kowal coached the Hawkeyes to their first-ever team appearance at the NCAA Championships, where Iowa finished ninth. The Varsity 8+ boat also received a national ranking of No. 10, its highest ever ranking. The Hawkeyes posted an undefeated spring dual season record for the Varsity 8+ in 2003 and finished fourth at the Big Ten Championships.
Kowal began her coaching career at the University of Wisconsin, where she served as the novice coach for seven years. Kowal began her rowing career at the University of Wisconsin in 1981 while pursuing a B.S. in Physical Education and Coaching.
Kowal has been honored twice by her alma mater for her contributions to rowing at Wisconsin. In 1996, The Mandi Kowal Award was created to honor the varsity lightweight athlete who contributes the most to the success of her crew by demonstrating a high level of performance, desire and excellence. In 1999, Kowal was again honored, having a racing eight named after her.