CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Virginia rowing head coach Kevin Sauer announced his retirement today (May 9) effective at the end of the current season. Sauer has directed the UVA program for the past 29 years, guiding the Cavaliers to a pair of NCAA championships, 22 ACC championships and nine NCAA boat titles. Sauer will conclude his illustrious career with the Cavaliers after the upcoming ACC and NCAA Championships.

Sauer came to Charlottesville in the fall of 1988, when he was hired as the Virginia Rowing Club’s second full-time professional coach. He oversaw the direction of both the men’s and women’s club teams until the women’s team was elevated to varsity status and began competition in the fall of 1995. Before coaching at Virginia, Sauer served two stints as head coach at Purdue, his alma mater, from 1979 to 1982 and from 1986 to 1987. Sauer also served as the freshmen coach at Yale.

“This has been an incredible ride and I have enjoyed almost every minute,” Sauer said. “I have appreciated all of the great support from administration, staff, assistant coaches, boatmen, parents and alumni. And, most of all, the student-athletes have been awesome and I’ll miss that the most.

“I have spent all these years working with those that are fairly fortunate, so in retirement I’d like to spend my time helping those less fortunate and with our church. But, most importantly, I want to spend more time with my wife, Barb, who has been my rock and biggest supporter. My kids and grandchildren are local, which is a true blessing, so I will be more involved in their lives. I know this program will thrive going forward and I cannot wait to watch and support them as well as all UVA Athletics. But our immediate emphasis is to finish this season well with ACCs next weekend and NCAAs two weeks later.”

A two-time Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association (CRCA) National Coach of the Year (2010 and 2012), Sauer elevated Virginia to the most elite level of rowing programs around the country and has guided the Cavaliers to a pair of NCAA Championships, in 2010 and 2012.

Cavalier boats have been crowned national champions nine times, including five times in the Varsity Four (2004, 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2015) and three times in the Second Varsity Eight (1998, 1999 and 2005). Sauer’s program hit another high in 2012 as the UVA Varsity Eight won the NCAA title for the first time and clinched the team title in the process.

The Cavaliers have also excelled in the ACC under Sauer, winning 22 of the 23 ACC regattas, including the last 13. Virginia has won 90 of the 100 events to be held at ACC regattas, had 18 crews be named ACC Crew of the Year and Sauer himself has been honored as the ACC Coach of the Year 14 times.

Sauer has led the Cavaliers to 11 top-four finishes and 17 top-five finishes at the NCAA Championships. In addition, the Cavaliers have landed 12 top-six national finishes in the last 16 years. Sauer surpassed 1,000 career Varsity Eight wins at Virginia during the 2019 season.

Under Sauer’s tutelage, 46 student-athletes have earned 62 Pocock Racing Shells All-America honors, and he has had 106 All-ACC selections. Virginia has had multiple All-Americans 20 of the last 21 years and at least one member on the first team in 21 of the last 23 seasons. Additionally, 17 Virginia rowers were named to the ACC’s 50th Anniversary Rowing Team. In 2023, a school-best 29 Cavaliers were named to the All-ACC Academic team.

Sauer made his Olympic debut in 2016 in Rio, coaching former UVA two-sport athlete Meghan O’Leary and Ellen Tomek in the women’s double sculls. Sauer has served USRowing as a five-time head coach of the Under-23 National Team, guiding American boats to gold medals in 2007, 2010, 2015, 2018 and 2022.

Overall at Virginia, Sauer has coached 20 rowers that have competed at the World Championships and nine Olympians, including one at each of the last five Olympiads.

“There may not be anyone who represents what Virginia athletics stands for more than Kevin Sauer,” Virginia Director of Athletics Carla Williams said. “For almost 30 years, he has directed our women’s rowing program, ushering it from its infancy to winning national championships. Kevin has been the only head coach the varsity program has ever known, previously serving as the coach for both the men’s and women’s club teams for several years.

“Kevin has seen his teams win 22 of the 23 ACC Championships, including the last 13. He has served as an Olympic coach and been inducted into the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Serving on committees and advisory boards, he has been instrumental in the tremendous growth of the sport.

“Kevin’s proudest accomplish is watching the student-athletes he coached go on to do amazing things in their communities, including more than 40 who are now doctors. Kevin himself has been a tremendous contributor in our community, working as a volunteer for Meals on Wheels for 18 years. Kevin is a shining example of what can be accomplished with hard work and grit. His career, and the way he has approached coaching, is a tremendous example for anyone to follow.”

A native of Indianapolis, Ind., Sauer received his bachelor’s degree in marketing and finance from Purdue in 1976 and was a member of the U.S. National Rowing Team in 1975 and 1977. While at Purdue, he rowed for the United States in the 1975 Pan American Games. He also competed in the 1977 World Rowing Championships.

Sauer continued his involvement in international competition as the rowing, canoe and kayak course contractor for the 1984 Olympics, 1987 Pan American Games, 1990 Goodwill Games, 1994 World Championships and 1996 Olympics. He also coached the U.S. Rowing Development Camp in 1997 and 2005 and served as a technical advisor for U.S. Rowing during the 1988 Olympic year before coming to Charlottesville that fall.

Sauer was inducted into the Pocock/Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association Hall of Fame on June 13, 2017.

Sauer and his wife, Barb, reside in Charlottesville. The Sauers have two children, Nick and Kelly, who also live in Charlottesville. Nick and wife, Lindsay, have two sons, Kevin and Nate, while Kelly and husband, Mark, have a daughter Colbie.

What other UVA coaching are saying about Sauer’s retirement:

“Kevin has had such a big impact on me. He has been the guy I have looked to for wisdom, guidance, encouragement and, yes, critiques since I got here in 2006. Most importantly, he has been a loyal friend. He’s not just my role model, he is a brother. I can’t thank him enough for his witness and his example” – UVA Wresting Head Coach Steve Garland.

 “I feel incredibly fortunate to have had Kevin as an advisor over the years, especially in the early days of my coaching career. For many of us coaches, Kevin was a perfect example of uncompromised excellence. He is a fierce competitor, gifted coach, and, most importantly, a wonderful human being.” – UVA Men’s Soccer Head Coach George Gelnovatch

 “I admire Kevin Sauer so much. He’s one of the best that’s ever done it. Every coach hopes for the ability to walk away and say, ‘I did it my way, I did it the right way’ and look in the mirror and say, ‘I have no regrets because of how I conducted my program.’ Kevin was so gracious to me when I got here 15 years ago. He is a fierce competitor who loves basketball. He’s the kind of coach you would want your own children to be influenced by.” – Dean and Markel Families Men’s Head Basketball Coach Tony Bennett