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All the usual reasons aside (tradition, betting shirts, etc), one has to wonder if men's rowing staying out of the NCAA has hurt the sport at the collegiate level.
With that I mean athletic departments maybe not taking the men's teams as seriously, programs being demoted to club teams, the general public not understanding why men's rowing isn't an NCAA sport (Heck, if it ain't NCAA it must not be a varsity sport..would I want to pursue that? I've literally had someone tell me that rowing isn't a varsity sport at Wisco because it doesn't show up on the Big 10 website...
Two thoughts: 1) Turning Play Into Work - article from Psychology Today, years ago [when I was a UW collegiate rower] it was really fun, largely because Dick Erickson was a consummate but competitive screw off.
Men's Swimming has been awesome at the same time Men's Rowing has suffered. As a grad of USNA, I am concerned with two areas: the ability of some colleges to compete in this environment (USNA specifically) and the elimination of the opportunity to grow those "kids off the block" from athletic freshman to world class oarsmen. the Difference between U23 competition and Senior level competition is huge.
I'm not necessarily advocating for men's rowing to join the NCAA, simply asking the question since people are trying to figure out the decline in US Men's results. Look at it this way - with 320 million people in the US meaning roughly 160 million males, but only 53 million (26.5 million males) in England and 4.5 million (2.25 million males) in New Zealand....US Men's Team should be kicking ass, year in and year out just like the women. The problem is that very few of the biggest and best male athletes are rowing.
They are playing sports where they can potentially make millions (imagine Rob Gronkowski or Le Bron rowing! Outside of tennis and maybe golf, there aren't many professional sports opportunities for women, so the emphasis is on the college scholarship, not future potential millions (yes, I know very very few athletes make it, but the carrot is still out there).
The NCAA regatta is a better overall race because it includes sculling - the consummate critical step to learning balance and hand skills ala Gladstone, Pocock, and Cunningham.
William James had it right - if what you're doing doesn't work, try something else.