October 20, 2014

Tim Hall-Chair Committee on Women's Athletics-NCAA
Mark Emmert-President NCAA
Sharon Cessna-Director of Championships-NCAA
Bob Williams-Vice-President of Communications-NCAA

NCAA Executives,

"I can't wait to ride in college," is heard at most Interscholastic Equestrian Association (IEA) events. By comment and action, this is an important goal for the organization's student-riders. In fact, the possibility of riding in college-on a scholarship-levels the playing field for these outstanding female athletes among high school sport participants. As their sisters, brothers and friends, who play other high school sports, have opportunities to gain undergraduate/graduate degrees with scholarships, the NCEA, provides these student-riders with the prospect to further their education and continue in equestrian sport.

Riding a horse is an endeavor rooted in the human experience; training an animal to behave for the benefit of mankind has evolved since the beginning of civilization. Forget Title IX, equestrian sport is the only current NCAA sport that was not created by humans, but by nature-an extraordinary learning connection.

Purely looking at analytics, the IEA was formed in 2002-the same year as the NCEA. The first year, the organization had 175 members. In the recently completed 2013-2014 season, the IEA had nearly 10,000 student-riders in grades six-twelve participating in 33 states across the United States. 1,043 of these riders were graduating female seniors who ride in Hunt Seat and/or Western disciplines. Isn't that a wonderful base for college recruitment?

Proven by these statistics and a consistent 20% annual growth in the IEA, the important analysis for the NCEA is the fact that the expansion of the IEA is a predictor of growth for the entire equestrian sport and a successful NCAA program! Participation at the college-level is the next logical step in the maturation of these fine women athletes. Importantly, these athletes-and their connections-represent desired demographic and psychographic profiles to potential sponsors, advertisers and donors. Properly communicated, equestrian sport will produce a significant revenue stream for the NCAA.

In addition, Olympic sport...the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) and the United States Hunter Jumper Association (USHJA) are refocusing elite programs to improve the US international success. The NCAA-through the NCEA-should be a part of this training for top female athletes.

We, at the IEA, are sorry you and your colleagues are experiencing a difficult time. We recommend, "turning lemon into lemonade," and not eliminate equestrian sport from college competition. In fact, we suggest you expand recruiting efforts and add the sport to additional institutions. Many young female athletes' growth, productivity and education are counting on riding in college.

We are willing to offer assistance, personally and as an organization, to help you preserve the NCAA equestrian program.


Co-founder/Executive Director
Interscholastic Equestrian Association

Interscholastic Equestrian Association