Monday, February 1, 2016

The National Collegiate Equestrian Association (NCEA) is pleased to support to the University of Tennessee at Martin (UTM) equestrian team in its efforts to raise $600,000 by June 1 of this year to have the resources to continue its program.

“The NCEA is committed to add our support to the UTM equestrian staff and the outstanding student-athletes in that program," NCEA Executive Director Dr. Leah Holland Fiorentino said. “We are hopeful that the NCEA membership and the UTM alumni will continue their successful efforts to raise additional funding for the program.  We are excited to see continued support from the UTM administration.”

UTM officials announced in November 2014 that the Skyhawk Equestrian program would be discontinued as a varsity sport based on the NCAA’s decision to remove equestrian from the NCAA's list of emerging sports for women.  This decision regarding the UTM program would take effect following the spring of 2016 unless funding could be procured to sustain the program. Each student-athlete’s scholarship at UTM would be honored through her fourth academic year.

Recent developments within the NCAA, including a vote to table the removal of equestrian as an emerging sport, have encouraged UTM to continue its equestrian program and seek outside funding to maintain a long-term high quality program.

UTM Equestrian boasts the only NCAA equestrian program in the state of Tennessee. Equestrian events include Hunter Seat Equitation on the Flat and Over Fences; and Western Horsemanship and Reining.  The UTM Equestrian Team offers more than 25 female student-athletes the opportunity to participate in an NCAA recognized sport

Alumni, parents and friends have been very supportive of the fundraising effort. Skyhawk Equestrian has set a June 1 target date for a goal of $600,000 to be used to secure the sport within the NCAA. This would allow the equestrian program to remain as a varsity sport at UTM for 2016-18 seasons.  Short-term fund-raising goals are set and immediate donations to the program would be of great value throughout the spring season. However, if the funding is not reached by the June 1 deadline, the program could be dissolved.

“While the University recognizes the value that the program and our student-athletes bring, we must raise $600,000 by June 1, 2016 to continue to provide NCAA athletic opportunities in the sport of equestrian on UTM campus," UTM head coach Meghan Cunningham said. “With the support from the NCEA, Equestrian industry and UT Martin community, we are hopeful to reach the benchmark to keep the legacy of our team on our campus and provide competitive opportunities for equestrian student-athletes for years to come.”  

In order to support the UTM equestrian program please follow this link:  www.utmforever.com/equestrian

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