By ALYSSA BURZYNSKI/Montana State News
Montana State University has reached its yearlong $1 million rodeo program endowment goal. The MSU Alumni Foundation has built permanent financial support for the rodeo program.
“This effort was led by a group of seven volunteers interested in MSU Rodeo who provided their own contributions to this initiative to create scholarship endowments,” according to Hilarie Ehlert, director of strategy and business relations for the MSU Alumni Foundation. Other contributions came from businesses and other rodeo enthusiasts to reach the $1 million mark.
At last years spring rodeo in Bozeman, MSU President Wade Cruzado announced the university’s goal of becoming the first school to raise the $1 million endowment, creating the largest privately supported rodeo team in the nation.
“The endowment helps secure the program. It hasn’t really had a solid foundation of funding,” said Mike True, MSUs head rodeo coach. True had been speaking with Cruzado in the past years about solidifying Montana States rodeo presence.
The Alumni Foundation has conducted yearlong “extensive research into university and college programs with a particular focus on the Northwest and major and schools with large, successful rodeo teams in Texas and Oklahoma,” according to Ehlert, but no evidence has been found that any teams endowment rival MSU’s.
“It’s amazing that just a small collegiate team has raised that much money and gained that much support. I am honored to be part of the program,” said Sarah Wright, a sophomore rodeo team member.
According to MSUs rodeo website, at least $750,000 will be directly invested in to 18 scholarships, creating 16 new scholarships and increasing the funding for two existing ones. Increased scholarship funds for rodeo student-athletes will “provide strength in recruiting the best students for the coaching staff,” says Ehlert.
Rodeo athletes are responsible for costs such as boarding, animal care and traveling expenses. “Rodeo is perhaps one of the most expensive college sports and by providing scholarships, the student is relieved of some financial burden as they pursue their degree,” Ehlert said.
The endowed scholarship will increase the financial flexibility for student-athletes while they pursue an academic career. At a $1 million level, the endowment provides about $30,000 per year in perpetuity, adding tuition, books and university fee assistance according to Montana State University’s rodeo webpage.
-Edited by Madeleine Sherrier