Campus / News / Sports

Group revives effort to bring rowing back to Buffalo State

Jess Freda

(Buffalo, N.Y.) — A group of rowing enthusiasts at SUNY Buffalo State is attempting to bring the sport back to the school after 43 years and a number of failed attempts.

While the idea of a rowing club may be new for some, the school actually had a successful rowing program in the 1960s and 70s, but it was terminated in 1974.

Dr. Bill Durfee, a professor of chemistry who is working to bring rowing back to the campus, appeared on the Buffalo Review TV April 27 to discuss the group’s efforts.

Durfee said he has been working to revive the program as a varsity sport for 10 years, but has been turned down twice, including last year. He said this time he hopes to establish rowing as a club sport for men and women.

The group held an information session April 25 outside the student union, which he said drew about 20 interested students despite poor weather.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of interest from both students and faculty,” said Durfee. “Obviously I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get more people coming to the row show, but 20 was still pretty good considering the horrible weather. I can easily see it getting up to 40 or 50 interested students before the fall.”

If allowed to organize, the club team would work in collaboration with the West Side Rowing Club, which worked with the old Buffalo State varsity teams in the past.

The West Side Rowing Club, which is located on the Niagara River near the Peace Bridge, would house Buffalo State’s boats and equipment, said Durfee.

“They want to help us to get started to be sure and there will be a fair amount of equipment that will have to be bought initially, but we could do it through them. Getting used equipment and what not, they’re most anxious to see us rowing again,” he said.

Ed Corr, president of the West Side Rowing Club, and Jim Schaab, a member of the Buffalo State athletics Hall of Fame and the former coach of the men’s rowing team, appeared on the Buffalo Review March 2016 to discuss their (failed) efforts last year to bring rowing back to Buffalo State.

Durfee’s interest in rowing began when his children got involved with the sport and when his daughter continued to row as an adult, she ended up becoming his coach.

Durfee said for him rowing has become addicting and he said the sport is one that anyone can learn and participate in.

Durfee cited Buffalo State alum Scott Roop who had no rowing experience when he came to the school, but ultimately became a champion and member of the USA Rowing Hall of Fame.

Roop also coached a boat in the summer Olympics last year in Brazil.

Students interested in rowing can contact Durfee at

* Khalid Terrell and Joseph Kasko contributed to this report.


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