Carney’s Corner: It’s about time RMU moved on from Kowalski
November 14, 2019
Editor’s Note: All opinions on RMU Sentry Media are the writer’s own.
MOON TOWNSHIP — In not even a year on the job, new Director of Athletics, Chris King, Ph.D. has already done more for the women’s soccer program than former Director of Athletics Craig Coleman, Ph.D. did during his entire tenure, as the department announced that Kowalski’s contract would not be renewed for the 2020 season.
It’s about time.
Yes, Kowalski is known as a great coach. Or perhaps I should say, he is known as a great men’s coach.
John Kowalski was a great men’s soccer coach at Robert Morris before his days as the women’s soccer coach. He won four NEC regular-season championships (1992, 1994, 1995, 1996), two NEC tournament championships (1993, 1994) and was a two-time NEC men’s coach of the year (1992, 1995).
During his time with the men’s soccer program, he was the program. Not only that, but he also accomplished things in the men’s soccer world that anyone would be proud of. He went 2-0-1 as interim head coach of the United States men’s soccer team and was the first-ever head coach of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds, later being inducted into their inaugural Hall of Fame class for that feat.
But he never succeeded on the field as the Robert Morris women’s soccer coach, which should be a big part of his job requirements.
It was always mind-boggling to me that a guy with a 112-224-19 overall record, just two winning seasons and one conference playoff appearance could continue to have a job for 19 seasons.
Now that’s job security.
King seems to understand that winning should be a key thing a coach accomplishes, Coleman clearly did not.
From my perspective, it looks like Coleman kept Kowalski around due to some success with a different program at the same time the internet was being released to the public.
When I interviewed King back in August, he talked about improving the non-revenue sports on campus. This is definitely a step in the right direction. While there may not be a coach more qualified than Kowalski on the market, it’s near impossible to find a coach that could do much worse.
It’s near impossible to find another coach that can waste an all-time great talent like Jane Schleicher. She is one of the best athletes in Robert Morris history, finishing third in career goals (24) and second in points per game (1.04) while also being the only Robert Morris women’s soccer player in program history to win NEC player of the year.
Even with all of that being accomplished by her, Kowalski’s teams featuring her never won more than six games, and never made the conference playoffs.
For those reasons, I hope the next coach doesn’t get nearly as long of a leash. With the Riverhounds succeeding in the USL, Pitt men’s and women’s improving with phenomenal hires and new improvements in the development area around the city, soccer is on the rise in Pittsburgh. Now is the time to put effort into improving the soccer programs that Robert Morris has on campus, and that starts with moving on from a guy who never came close to putting it together.
I do have a lot of respect for what Kowalski did during his time as the men’s coach. The problem is, he did that for a completely different program and before any of the program’s current players were born.
I cannot speak as to why Kowalski had so much success in men’s soccer and so little success in women’s soccer. All I can say is that for the job that he had for 19 years, he didn’t have nearly enough success to justify him staying with the program. The definition of insanity is to keep trying the same thing and to expect different results and for nearly two decades, that’s what this program was.
But finally, under the new direction of King, the women’s soccer program will no longer be just that. I’m excited to see who is brought in to replace Kowalski and the direction that this program will go, now that it finally has one.