As he enters his 31st season as the head coach of the Brown women's crew in 2014-15, John Murphy is considered the premier coach in the nation. Along with his wife, associate head coach Phoebe Murphy, he has won seven NCAA championships in the 18 seasons since the competition began. After winning the program's first championship in 1999, Murphy and the Bears went on to win again in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2011 an astonishing run of seven titles in 13 years. Murphy is also a six-time winner of the EAWRC Coach of the Year award, taking home the honor in 1988, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, and 2008.
Brown returned to the national podium in 2014, capturing third place at the NCAA Women's Rowing Championships on the strength of a silver medal finish in the varsity eight race. The Bears swept Ivy League competition during the regular season to secure the team's first No. 1 national ranking since 2007, a position they maintained for five weeks. Brown won the Team Trophy at the Ivy League Championships, accumulating the most overall points and finishing second in the varsity eight race. The team received its 18th consecutive bid to compete in the NCAA Championships, making Brown one of just three teams to be invited to every national championship since its inception. The successful season earned Murphy his fourth Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association New England Region Coach of the Year award and an induction into the CRCA Hall of Fame.
In 2011, the Bears showed a true team effort, coming from behind to end in virtual tie with Stanford in the final event. Thanks to Brown's higher finish in the varsity eight race (less than a second difference) the Bears were awarded their seventh national championship crown while under the tutelage of the Murphy's.
Murphy was recognized by US Rowing with the Fan's Choice Award for the National Collegiate Coach of the Year 2011, presented at the inaugural Golden Oars Awards Dinner at the New York Athletic Club.
In 2008 the Bears easily won the team title with an impressive eight-point margin over second place Washington. The second varsity eight led the way for Bruno, winning a gold medal with a time of 6:42, more than two seconds ahead of the next boat. The varsity eight and varsity four each took the bronze, illustrating Brown's depth and team approach. The combination was enough to give the Bears 67 points, well ahead of the rest of the field.
At the 2007 NCAA Division I Rowing Championships in Oak Ridge, TN, all three of Bruno's crews made it into the Grand Finals and captured its fifth NCAA Championship in 10 years. After the season, Murphy guided the crew to a semifinal appearance at the Henley Royal Regatta in London, England. To top off the successful 2007 season, Murphy also had one student athlete named to the First Team of the District I ESPN The Magazine Academic All-America team.
In 2004, the second varsity eight went undefeated as Brown captured first place in both the varsity and second varsity eight races at the national championships in Sacramento, CA. Brown finished its 2002 season undefeated in the regular season and ended with a record of 10-1, earning its third national title. In 2001 the Bears finished third in the NCAA Championships at Lake Lanier in Gainesville, GA. The team compiled an 11-1 overall record and captured its fourth straight Eastern Championship on Cooper River in Camden, New Jersey.
In 2000, Murphy was named the Division I Rowing Coach of the Year by the CRCA (College Rowing Coaches Association) after his crew captured its second consecutive NCAA Division I Rowing Championship with victories in the varsity and second varsity races at Cooper River. In addition to a second consecutive NCAA title, the Bears' won the 2000 Eastern Sprints title and an Ivy League championship. In 1999, Murphy led his crew to the first NCAA Division I Championship in Brown University history after defeating the University of Virginia by a three-second margin at the NCAA Championship at Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, California. The Bears' also captured the Eastern Sprints Championships and the Ivy Championship while setting a new course record.
Murphy coached the '98 women's crew team in the prestigious Henley Regatta in London, England. In 1997, he guided the crew to a third place finish at the inaugural NCAA women's rowing championship on Lake Natoma in Rancho Cordova, California. That year, his varsity four won the first gold medals ever awarded at the NCAA championship. After finishing the 1996 season undefeated, Coach Murphy's crew became the first women's crew to capture the "Triple Crown" of collegiate racing - the Eastern Sprints, the IRAs, and the National Collegiate Rowing Championship. Murphy coached his crew to back-to-back IRA Championships in 1993 and 1994.
He also tallied an EAWRC team Championship in 1990, capturing the Charles G. Willing trophy after winning gold medals in the first varsity and the second varsity. Coach Murphy was recognized in '88 being named the EAWRC coach of the year after his varsity eight captured the Women's Eastern Sprints Championship for the first time in Brown history. Murphy began his coaching career in 1976 at Cal-Berkeley where he was responsible for the men's novice crew. He continued to coach the men's novice crew in 1977 and 1978.
In 1979-80, Murphy coached the women's novice crew at the University of Washington with the first novice eight going undefeated in the Pac-10 and claiming the West Coast Championship. Murphy returned to Cal-Berkeley as the novice women's coach in 1980, winning the Pac-10 West Coast Championship in 1981. His 1982 and 1983 crews were both silver medal winners and his 1984 crew were undefeated National Champions.
Murphy attended Kent School and Columbia University. At Kent, he captained the National Schoolboy Championship crew and rowed in the Royal Henley Regatta in his junior and senior years. He and his wife, Phoebe, have three children, Jack, Penelope and the late Patrick D. Murphy, and reside in Barrington, Rhode Island.
Murphy's Career Awards
EAWRC Coach of the Year: 1988, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, & 2008
CRCA National Coach of the Year: 2000, 2004, & 2008
CRCA Regional Coach of the Year: 2000, 2002, 2008 & 2014
Words Unlimited Coach of the Year: 1999
Words Unlimited Co-Coach of the Year (with wife, Phoebe): 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011
US Rowing Ernestine Bayer Award for significant contributions to women's rowing: 2007
Duffy Dwyer Memorial Award: 2004
Words Unlimited Team of the Year: 2004
Outstanding Athletic Achievement in Intercollegiate Athletics Award: 2002 & 2004
US Rowing Golden Oars National Collegiate Coach of the Year: 2011
CRCA Hall of Fame: 2014
Ivy League Coach of the Year: 2015
Murphy's Record at Brown