Interim UW women’s rowing coach Conor Bullis took over the program when longtime coach Bob Ernst was abruptly dismissed during the middle of the school year. Now Bullis hopes to lose his ‘interim’ title.
While the Washington men’s rowing team opens competition for a national title in New Jersey, Friday is also a big day for interim women’s coach Conor Bullis, who was slated to interview for the position on a long-term basis.
Bullis, who began the school year last fall as a fifth-year assistant, was named interim coach in late November after Bob Ernst was abruptly dismissed following complaints by some rowers about Ernst’s coaching style. The UW women finished fifth at the NCAA championships last weekend near Sacramento.
Bullis, 32, wants the job.
“I’m serious about this,” he said. “I really want to continue all the progress we’ve made over the last five years and keep pushing the program to the top.”
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The university posted the opening in April. A UW spokesman said the school has “a very deep and talented candidate pool.” A coach is expected to be named by the end of June.
A Seattle native and Garfield grad who rowed and served as captain at Oregon State, Bullis spent two years as a freshman intern at UW before being hired by Ernst in 2011 to be his first assistant and lead recruiter.
“I’ve been connected to the program for seven years, and I’ve done everything to be part of the culture and history and all of our traditions,” he said. “I think we’re all in alignment here. We all want to win a championship and do it the right way.”
How would he assess his chances?
“This was my first time coaching at the NCAAs, and to have two boats on the podium, I feel pretty proud about that,” said Bullis, whose second varsity eight finished third and varsity four placed second.
“There are a lot of other talented coaches out there, and I’m relatively young. But Michael Callahan was the same age as me when he took over the men’s team. He had his growing pains as well figuring out how to run his program, and look at what he did.”
Callahan backs Bullis.
“He took the ball and ran with it,” he said. “He reached out to a lot of people, he tried to build a lot of relationships, and he kept that team together. It could have gone south pretty easily, and I think he did a really nice job of holding everyone together and maybe even improving some things, too.”