Jim Glavin, now the rowing coach at St. Joseph's Prep, can remember the phone call. He was just back in the country after coaching a boat at the world rowing championships when one of his rowers called. They'd dropped the rowing team.
"I thought he was kidding," said Glavin. "I thought it was a practical joke."
This was St. Joseph's College, summer of 1975. Title IX, signed into law by President Richard Nixon three years earlier, called for gender equity in educational programs that receive federal funding. Responding to it, St. Joseph's decided to drop two men's sports, rowing and tennis, while adding three women's sports.
There was no money to pay the coach, but the Hawks' team continued as a club in fits and starts, moving its boats to various boathouses before being restored as a varsity program in 1991. (It now shares a sparkling upriver boathouse with St. Joseph's Prep.)
It's not really the number of people that determines the capacity of a boathouse, but boat space. If there's no room for a boat, there's no room. Currently, Boathouse Row is beyond capacity.
Because men's rowing is not an NCAA sport, it is treated differently at local Division I colleges. Temple supported it as a varsity sport. This allowed a "handful" of scholarships, according to men's coach Gavin White.
At Villanova, the men's team is a club, outside the jurisdiction of the athletic department.
At Drexel, the sport is varsity, and there are eight to 10 scholarships for both the men and women. This commitment - partially funded by a seven-figure donation from one alumnus - resulted in the Dragons' winning the varsity eight and overall point total at last spring's Dad Vail regatta.
The Dad Vail triumph resulted in a bonanza of local publicity, in print media and from the live local telecast of the regatta.
In getting to such a place, Drexel had made its own strategic decisions. In 2003, for instance, the school dropped baseball and volleyball.
"We had no idea it was coming," a Drexel baseball player was quoted in The Inquirer at the time.