After months of uncertainty regarding the future of Division I collegiate equestrian, the National Collegiate Athletic Association announced it would continue to support the sport as an NCAA emerging sport for women.
On June 22, the NCAA’s Strategic Vision and Planning Committee reviewed the NCAA’s Committee on Women’s Athletics’ September 2014 recommendation to remove equestrian from the list of emerging sports. The SVPC decided to table the recommendation.
When equestrian joined the NCAA in 2002 as an emerging sport, it was given 10 years to get 40 schools involved. Due to growth, the sport was granted an extension of the 10-year period, but as of 2014, equestrian only had programs at 22 schools. Even though equestrian doesn’t meet the minimum requirements as a sport, the SVPC believes the issue requires further discussion and will look into student-athlete participation.
“We have strong leadership from the athletic administrators of our current NCEA institutions,” said NCEA executive director Leah Fiorentino. “They are working with their colleagues at several institutions who are interested in adding equestrian to their athletic department sport inventory. In addition, the NCEA National Advisory Board has assisted with support at current and future universities. Their support has been invaluable.”
Following the CWA’s recommendation, the NCEA reorganized, adding an executive director and establishing the National Advisory Board. The goal of the NAB is to continue the advancement of equestrian sport to be “the most sustainable and strongest of all NCAA women’s sports,” Fiorentino said. “Now that the NCAA decision has been reached, the NAB will focus on making equestrian the first non-revenue generating sport to be financially independent. Although only in place for four months, the NAB has already launched several positive initiatives and has organized plans for fundraising and friend-raising efforts that will begin immediately.”