NCEA Adds Two New NCAA Teams
By Dr. Leah Holland Fiorentino, NCEA executive director
In an effort to maintain the flow of accurate and timely information about NCEA activities, I am providing an update with good news from the leadership of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
NCAA Status. In anticipation of the start of a very exciting 2016-2017 Equestrian season, I wanted to share the good news that has been piling up in late spring and over the summer months. Our support from the NCAA remains strong and official notification has been received from the Strategic Vision and Planning Committee (SVPC) with a strong recommendation that Equestrian will remain on the Emerging Sport list. This was the final step in a yearlong process to move Equestrian out from under any negative focus from the NCAA leadership. We are excited with this final statement and we look forward to working with the NCAA leadership to continue to increase the number of NCAA Equestrian teams across the nation.
National Championship – 2016. The NCEA leadership sponsored the 13th NCEA National Championship event at the Extraco Center in Waco, Texas. This was the 10th year that Baylor University in collaboration with the City of Waco and McClellan County hosted the event. Vendors, donors, and sponsors from across the county made this event possible and more than two thousand participants and spectators contributed to the excitement. Planning is underway for the 2017 event at the Extraco Events Center April 13-15. Sponsorship packets are available for those interested in participating as a Sponsor of the NCEA National Championship event.
Marketing Efforts. At the conclusion of the 2016 NCEA National Championship event, the NCEA leadership and the National Advisory Board (NAB) met in Ft Worth for the Annual Spring meeting. Of great importance is the renewed focus of the NAB on a marketing strategy to position Equestrian as the first financially sustainable non-revenue generating NCAA sport. A small Marketing Team has been organized to develop the materials and set the plan in action this fall. In addition, strong support has been provided by athletic department administrators who have rallied to provide additional energy to the NCEA by serving on several important committee structures.
New Teams. We would like to welcome two new NCAA teams this year, Long Island University – Post (LIU-Post) and Dartmouth University. Both universities notified the NCAA of their plans to sponsor NCAA Equestrian teams on their campuses. We look forward to working with those campuses to provide support for the teams.
New Mexico State University Update. We are very excited about the strong show of support by the New Mexico State University community in response to the budgetary conditions within the state. NAB Liaison Sue Padilla provided an effective network of collaborators across the state to address the financial decision made by the athletic department. The NMSU community continues to support the efforts of the Equestrian team and is optimistic about the upcoming season.
NCEA Junior Hunter Seat Medal. The NAB has reported great success with the newly established NCEA Hunter Seat Medal Class offered at USEF shows across the country. This initiative supports the work of the NCEA and provides an opportunity for junior riders to experience the exciting NCEA format before entering college. This year there are two finals planned; the East Coast Finals are scheduled for October 1 at HITS – Culpepper, VA and the West Coast Finals are scheduled for November 12 at HITS – Thermal, CA. The top 50 riders have been invited to attend the final events.
NCEA Graduate Intern. Paige Linne was selected as the NCEA’s first Graduate Intern. Paige is a graduate student enrolled in Texas A&M’s Equine Industry Management program under the direct supervision of Dr. James Heird and Dr. Anna Morrison. This summer, Paige worked with Mr. Kevin Hurley (Senior Associate Athletics Director) on initiatives for the Sport Advancement Committee. Paige was able to bring her vast experience as a leader on the Texas A&M Equestrian team into her role as a Graduate Intern which directly benefitted the work of the committee.
First Sport Page/Column for NCAA Equestrian. As we begin the new sport season, September ushered in a new media outlet source for NCAA Equestrian. Liza Godell, a journalism major at UGA, working under the direct oversight of Tom O’Mara (NAB Liaison) and Dr. Leah Fiorentino has taken the lead in developing the first NCAA Sports Page. The monthly report will be published through Sidelines Magazine. The plan is to provide a larger fan base with information about upcoming competition dates, standings, personal interest stories, and photos.
USEF Initiatives. Through ongoing efforts to collaborate with the USEF, a series of new initiatives are in the development process. The initiatives include new efforts to highlight all collegiate riding formats through the USEF media outlets, provide access to education materials related to the equine industry, and provide free non-competitor memberships for student-athletes who are not already competitor members of the USEF.