Equestrian sport added to lineup

Jeremy Fugleberg

Jeremy Fugleberg

SDSU will add equestrian as a women’s sport next fall with competition to begin in fall 2005, said Athletic Director Fred Oien in a press conference Thursday.

The new horse sport was started partly for compliance with Title IX, which works toward gender equality in athletics. The equestrian sport will be housed at the Pegasus Equine Center just northeast of campus on the US Highway 14 bypass and Interstate 29. The program will cost $400,000 and will begin with five scholarships, go up to 10 in 2007 and reach 15 by fiscal year 2010. Oien said the average squad size will be around 60, with 30 participants competing starting in fall 2005.

“Our women know horses (and) are accomplished riders,” said SDSU President Peggy Gordon Miller. “They’ve talked about this, they’ve hoped for this. It’s just the right thing to do and the right time to do it, and I’m just so grateful that the Board (of Regents) gave us the opportunity.”

SDSU has a letter of intent to enter into a long-term lease as the primary tenant at the Pegasus Equine Center, and hopes to have something more formal drawn up by July 1, said Rob Peterson, SDSU assistant athletic director.

“There’s a potential for us to actually do some academic classes out here, like our light horsemanship, riding classes, those sorts of things,” said Peterson, who has experience with equestrian from his time at Fresno (Ca.) State University.

The school plans to add a bigger riding arena to replace the current small arena, which would be converted into stables, Peterson said. The current stable capacity is 20, but converting the small arena could add up to 50 or 60 additional stables.

“Our goal is to have 60 females participating in the sport,” Peterson said. “Not every one of them will have their own horse but the university will also have its own stable of horses for outside competitions. We need to have those types of opportunities.”

A former head equestrian coach from Fresno State will come to the school on May 7-9 as a consultant on academics, compliance, fundraising and athletic training as it relates to equestrian.

Peterson said the school wants to get the program going, and plans to hire personnel very soon.

“Our goal is to have a head coach in place by July 1 if possible,” Peterson said. “We have actually submitted the paperwork to begin the process of advertising.”

SDSU is now the 38th NCAA school with equestrian as an athletic program. The schools are spread across three divisions, which would merge for a single national championship. But the NCAA won’t hold a national championship until there are 40 schools with equestrian.

Currently 15 Division I schools offer equestrian, of which Kansas State University and Oklahoma State University are the closest to SDSU. There are five Division II schools, with University of Minnesota-Crookston as the closest. There are 18 Division III schools with equestrian; almost all are on the east coast.