RIVERSIDE, Calif. – Rick Rowland and California Baptist University aquatics have gone hand in hand for the past 15 seasons, accumulating successful seasons one after another for both CBU’s men’s water polo and swimming and diving teams. After his 16th season at the helm of the men’s water polo program finishes this fall, Rowland will step down to shift his sole focus to the Lancers’ swimming and diving program.
“Coach Rowland has done a tremendous job as a dual coach but it’s time for him to be able to focus on one sport,” Director of Athletics Dr. Micah Parker said on the announcement Thursday. “We are excited about what both programs can accomplish in the future by having their own coach. We hope our men’s water polo team will work hard to make this season special. A national search for a new coach will begin immediately.”
Since 1999, CBU men’s water polo has amassed a 334-174 record for a .657 winning percentage and won the CWPA/NAIA National Invitational Tournament in 2007 when water polo was deemed an NAIA emerging sport. The Lancers went on to win the CWPA National Invite once again in 2011.
Rowland also coached CBU women’s water polo for its first eight years (2000-2007), leading the program to a combined 162-106 record in that span. The women finished four seasons nationally ranked under Rowland, a feat the men have done 10 times.
This upcoming season, Rowland will be in line to notch his 500th career win at CBU, as he holds a 496-280 combined record with men’s and women’s water polo.
“Rick Rowland’s impact on the CBU intercollegiate aquatic sports cannot be overstated,” CBU President Dr. Ronald L. Ellis said. “When CBU built the aquatic center in 1998, Rick was hired to be the founding coach for both men and women swimming and diving teams as well as both men and women water polo teams. From the beginning, the teams have been nationally competitive and maintained outstanding academic and athletic quality.”
The five-time national coach of the year award winner, Rowland, has already made an impact on the CBU swimming and diving program. His swimming/diving teams have captured nine national titles and finished runner-up 14 times, in addition to the women posting the highest finish in the NCAA of any Lancer program so far, taking ninth at the 2014 Division II Championships. Rowland first picked up the national coach of the year award in 2001 with both the men’s and women’s squads. He went on to recapture the title in 2006 and 2011 with the women and 2008 with the men.
This past season, Rowland was named the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Women’s Swim Coach of the Year, as CBU had the conference men’s and women’s swimmer of the year and the meet, the women’s freshman of the year and women’s diver of the year and the meet, in the Lancers first season as a conference member.
Individually, 128 Lancers (80 men, 48 women) have won national championships under Rowland. There have been 96 individual race victories, 20 relay and 12 national diving champions for CBU swimming/diving in all. He has also coached 12 NAIA Outstanding Swimmer award winners.
CBU women’s swimming also produced the school’s first individual NCAA champion in 2013-14, as Mary Hanson won the 100-yard backstroke in a Division II, CBU and personal record 52.45 seconds.
A total of 124 of Rowland’s athletes have reached All-American status, combining for a grand total of 754 awards. Sixty men’s swimmers/divers have collected 363 awards, while 54 women have secured 378 honors and 10 men’s water polo players have teamed up for 13 distinctions. Men’s water polo is also on a seven-year streak of having at least one All-American.
No matter what hat he has worn, Rowland has produced tremendous success for the Lancers. He has guided all three teams through challenging waters, most notably the transition from NAIA to the NCAA. In addition, CBU men’s water polo and swim/dive joined conferences, the Western Water Polo Association and RMAC, respectively, for the first time in 2013-14. Through it all, Lancer aquatics has not only pushed through but thrived under Rowland.
“I am grateful for all Rick has done to lead the CBU aquatics program,” Ellis said, “and for his continued leadership in this area as CBU competes at the national level in NCAA DII.”