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UNC Rowing: Erin Neppel hired as new head coach

Neppel, class of 2001, returns to Chapel Hill.

Rowers Martin & Valent Sinkovic Train For Tokyo Olympic Games Photo by Igor Kralj/ Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images

A familiar face is returning to Chapel Hill to run the UNC women’s rowing team. Erin Neppel, class of 2001, will become the third ever head coach of the rowing program, which began in 1997. During her Tar Heel career, Neppel was a two-time All-ACC (2000, 2001) and a second team all-American in 2001.

Neppel was most recently an assistant coach at Virginia (2017-2021), where the Hoos have been dominant in the ACC. They won the ACC title in 2018, 2019, and 2021, with no championship awarded in 2020 due to the pandemic. She was instrumental to UVa’s recruiting, signing 50 rowers in the past three seasons. If she was able to get athletes to a weird place like Charlottesville, she’ll have no trouble getting them to the southern part of Heaven in Chapel Hill.

Prior to her time at Virginia, Neppel was an assistant at Canisius College in Buffalo, NY, culminating as the interim head coach for the 2016-17 season. She guided Canisius to a third-place finish in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, tied for the school’s highest ever finish.

UNC athletic director Bubba Cunningham was excited about bringing Neppel back home to Carolina, where he has an impressive stable of coaches for Olympic sports. Bringing a proven winner to the UNC rowing program is another example of *ahem* rising tide lifting all ships.

“It’s truly exciting when a head coaching candidate is someone who cherishes her experience as a Tar Heel student-athlete, has gone on to success in the coaching ranks in both the ACC and NCAA Championships, and has tremendous passion to come back and raise the level of our program. And Erin Neppel checks all of those boxes. Erin was an All-America in the earliest days of our program and has played a key role in team successes and individual development at Virginia and Canisius. She shares our belief that Carolina Rowing has the potential to become a great program and artfully detailed her plan and enthusiasm to tap into that potential.”