On Thursday, the NCAA announced that equestrian would continue to be supported as a viable sport competing on the Division I level.
This news postpones a September 2014 recommendation from the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics to cut support for the sport nationally after not making minimum NCAA standards after 13 years in existence. A recommendation that K-State’s athletic department heeded in its decision to put an end to our own equestrian program soon after, citing NCAA requirements as a reason to act preemptively.
“While this was an extremely difficult and complex decision, we are proud of the effort of our equestrian coaches and student-athletes and the first-class way they have represented K-State since the program’s inception in 2000,” K-State Athletic Director John Currie said last September. “Unfortunately, with equestrian no longer projected to count toward the minimum NCAA requirement of 16 sponsored varsity programs as detailed in NCAA Bylaw 20.9.6, we must move our resources to another sport to continue our ability to operate as a Division I FBS member of the NCAA.”
The National Collegiate Equestrian Association, a nonprofit governing body in the sport of equestrian, released the news of the postponement after the NCAA’s new Strategic Vision and Planning Committee reviewed the recommendation and voted to table it, believing that further discussions were needed to decide the sport’s fate.
“We look forward to working closely with the NCAA to support the growth of equestrian,” Leah Holland Fiorentino, the association’s executive director, said. “This is the first step in cultivating new programs at universities across the nation.”
In response to the news, the K-State athletic department released a statement concerning their decision last fall and their future with the sport.
“Each day we make decisions on what we believe to be in the best interest of our student-athletes and K-State in the ever-changing and evolving world of higher education and intercollegiate athletic,” Currie said Friday evening. “Our deliberations and decision last fall on the long-term sustainability of our equestrian program in relation to our ability to meet NCAA minimum sport sponsorship requirements were based on these principles and the information that was available to us at that time. The ongoing uncertainty of the sport’s future validates that decision. We certainly hope that equestrian can be viable as an intercollegiate sport nationally, but K-State remains committed to the path selected last fall.”
The upcoming 2015-16 season will mark the final season of equestrian at K-State before women’s soccer takes its place.
Even with equestrian definitively not being a part of K-State’s future sports repertoire, nationally the NCEA hopes that the NCAA’s tabling of its decisions will keep the sport alive in the coming future.
“This is a huge step forward for the sport of equestrian and the numerous opportunities the NCEA offers female student-athletes,”Meghan Boenig, the equestrian association president, said. “We have a lot more work to do, however this is very exciting news. I encourage everyone to stay involved as we continue to move forward.”