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Dear Alumni: Set forth below is a letter from alum, Tom Caudill. The letter underscores the concerns and sentiments of the Cougar Crew Alumni Association (CCAA). On behalf of the CCAA, we would appreciate your taking a few moments to read the letter.

Power 10: 

     I was a Cougar oarsman from 1976 to 1980. I recently had the opportunity to attend Cougar Crew Days in Pullman during March 19 and 20, 2010. Over the weekend, I also attended the open Board Meeting on March 20, 2010. While I had a wonderful time reconnecting with former teammates, meeting the current rowers, rowing on the river, and meeting other alumni and family members, I left Pullman with a feeling of embarrassment and a personal (but silent) sense of outrage. Specifically, and strictly from the point of view as an alum, I became concerned about the financial condition of the men’s crew, the time commitment of rowers to raise money, and the tremendous effort by the coaches for a nominal pay. 

My rowing experience at WSU was a character builder and a foundation for discipline and responsibility, all of which have guided me throughout my career and life. For this reason, and for the life long friendships made from rowing, I owe the Cougar Crew a great deal of gratitude. Moreover, I feel a deep-seeded responsibility to the current rowers and, in particular, the coaches, each of whom seek to maintain our Cougar Crew tradition. This tradition can neither be maintained nor grow without help from the alumni. With this in mind, kindly note the following: 

1. The Coaches: The men’s head coach is Arthur Ericsson. Arthur is dedicated to the crew on a full time basis. During the rowing season, he expends a significant amount of time (well beyond 60 hours per week). He is married and has two young children. He sacrificed a career, and a better paying job, for the opportunity to coach the WSU Men’s Crew. He has been our coach for approximately six years. During this time, he has made significant strides to improve the quality of the crews placed on the water and at the race starting line. The WSU men’s crew is becoming increasingly competitive (like the old days). Coach Ericsson and his family have sacrificed much to maintain our tradition. In exchange, we pay Coach Ericsson a mere $20,000 a year. This compensation, to say the least, is an embarrassment. He makes less than the poverty level for a sometimes thankless job. Yet, Coach Ericsson does an outstanding job for and with the rowers, for the crew in general, and for the alumni. 

The men’s novice coach is Julia Gamache. The amount we pay Julia for her effort on behalf of the crew is equally if not more of an embarrassment. We pay her $10,000 per year. I was previously unaware of the pitiful compensation paid to our coaches. Yet, we expect each of them to commit one hundred percent of their time to the crew. 

2. The Rowers: The time commitment by the current rowers to garner enough money to attend races is equally embarrassing. Moreover, the rowers’ attention to fund-raising efforts has increased greatly as the team has taken on the responsibility of hiring coaches. The rowers’ off season conditioning is intense. Their preseason practices are time consuming. Their dedication equals (if not exceeds) that of former rowers. Yet, our rowers cannot practice the same number of days a week as do rowers from other schools. This is because of necessary fund-raising programs such as “rent-a-rower”, “tables and chairs”, in which they set up tents, chairs and tables for various WSU events. The fund-raising work by the rowers results in a loss of practices on Fridays and during select weekends. And yes, practices are canceled during racing season due to necessary fund-raising efforts. Further, the various rent-a-rower programs and other fund-raising events do not raise sufficient capital for all to participate in regattas. Only some WSU shells may compete at regattas, and for some regattas, some may not compete at all. As an example, the Cougar Crew had to “scratch” both novice 8's at the recent San Diego Crew Classic because of novice team financial constraints. Yet, each rower practices as hard as the next for the opportunity to race. 

It is also noteworthy that the annual dues paid by the rowers will increase from $275 to $325. In addition, out of pocket expenses for travel, for those rowers who can afford such expenses, are approximately $2,000.00 per year. 

3. The Equipment: There is an ongoing need for better and newer equipment. The competing schools, by and large, have better and newer equipment on a consistent basis. In fact, other schools sell their “second-hands” to WSU, as our club can only afford to buy hand-me-downs from its competition. Our rowers, therefore, are reduced to competing with inferior equipment. As an example, last year several used shells were purchased from Western. Western no longer needed the used shells because it purchased new state-of-the-art shells. Yet, the “elder” WSU men’s rowing club can rarely purchase a new shell for its team. Embarrassing. 

Given the meager compensation to our coaches, the tireless effort of the rowers in the face of an inability to attend all races, and given the hand-me-down shells in which they race, I had a difficult time looking eye to eye with persons such as Coach Arthur Ericsson. As an alum, and speaking strictly for myself, I was both embarrassed and ashamed that we, as an alumni group, cannot do more for those who strive to maintain a tradition of which we were and are a part. 

I feel that if each of us as a sustaining member contributes a nominal amount, and if we do so continuously, the concerns set forth above may be appropriately addressed and the Cougar Crew will significantly benefit. 

Thank you for your consideration and contributions, past and future. 

Tom Caudill Lightweight Oarsman, 1976-1980 


The CCAA Board shares the concerns raised by Tom Caudill. The long-term goal of the CCAA is to build its Endowment fund to a level sufficient to pay the coaching staff, to allow our rowers to practice rather than work at fund-raisers, to allow all rowers to attend regattas, and to purchase state-of-the-art shells. 

Over the last four years, many of you have responded to team needs and contributions to the Endowment have totaled $32,398. Unfortunately, the dividends from the Endowment fund, which may be used for the team, yield only approximately $7,800 per year. This amount is insufficient to even maintain the status quo. As an extra effort to that drive, we propose to take a “Power 10” and urge all of our alums to participate in giving a small sum on a monthly basis to directly supplement items such as coaching salaries. 

A contribution of $10 per month (hence the “Power 10”) might hardly be felt in a monthly budget. But, combined with 100 or 200 (or more) of your fellow rowing alums, the total effect will be huge. Much like getting that ‘swing’ in the boat, big things suddenly become easier and obtainable. 

Contribution Instructions: Contributions will be made directly to the Cristy Cook Memorial Fund (acct #17A 6800-2168) using the EFT form or credit card instructions below. For the EFT method, please fill out the information and attach a voided check. This authorizes the Foundation to automatically take the specified amount out of your checking account on the 1st or 15th of each month. Specify “indefinitely” as the time period if you wish to continue for more than one year. Mail to the WSU Foundation at Town Centre 201, Pullman, WA 99164-1927. 

Power 10 EFT Authorization Form

Power 10 Credit Card Instructions 
1) Give to the Cristy Cook Memorial fund online at the WSU Foundation giving site: 
2) Mark the time period that you wish your gift to extend to 
In the comments field put: 
3) Power 10 Campaign #10362
4) Press ‘Checkout’ and proceed to credit card authorization page 
*Note: If your credit card expires or the Foundation has difficulties processing your donation, you will receive an email from the WSU Foundation ( 

Thank you. 

CCAA Board of Directors
Tim Richards - Chairman
Andrew King - Vice Chairman
Doug Engle - Financial Advisor
Ken Struckmeyer - Faculty Advisor
Lisa Curtis - Alumni Representative
Arthur Ericsson - Head Coach
Alec Hurley - Men's Coach
Giles Dakin-White - Novice Coach
Griffin Berger - Commodore
Matt Elliot - Vice Commodore
August Boyle - Treasurer
Alyssa Kodama - Publisher
Ryan Mather-Haaland - Historian