DESTIN, Fla. – The Southeastern Conference will now sponsor a championship in the sport of equestrian beginning with the 2012-13 academic year, Commissioner Mike Slive announced Friday. Four current members of the league sponsor the sport with Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and Texas A&M each fielding equestrian squads.
Equestrian becomes the SEC’s 21st sport and is the first championship to be added to the league since softball began in 1997.
“I think we were really looking for a championship opportunity for the student-athletes that participate in the sport and this will provide them the opportunity to compete for a conference championship now,” said SEC Executive Associate Commissioner Mark Womack.
Legislative action, which took place this week in Destin, was necessary to allow for the addition of equestrian. Previously, one-third of league institutions would need to sponsor a sport in order for the conference to hold a championship event in that sport. With 12 members, that number was previous four institutions. With the addition of Missouri and Texas A&M, the new legislation will allow that number to remain at four for the sponsoring of new sports.
“There was legislative action that really altered the number of teams that were required to have a conference championship in a sport,” Womack said “With that move, we were right on the edge with equestrian, and so that legislative proposal being passed resulted in an equestrian championship for the first time.”
The first SEC equestrian championship will take place in the 2012-13 school year and will likely be an on-campus championship.
“That will begin next season and that will probably be a campus-hosted championship,” Womack said. “We will have to see where it goes from there.”