General Information About Rodeo
There are currently 42 members in the Sul Ross Rodeo Club; 22 competing members and 20 non-competing members. Whether an active rodeo participant, eager to learn or wanting to be around the lifestyle of rodeo, all students are welcome and encouraged to participate in this outgoing and sociable organization.
In order to participate in the rodeo program at Sul Ross, you must be an active member of the Sul Ross Rodeo Club, which is open to all students currently enrolled at the university. You do not have to be a rodeo participant to be involved in the club.
Events and Finding
Sul Ross is in the Southwest region, which includes several junior colleges as well as universities. During the fall semester, there are four NIRA rodeos that Sul Ross participates in (including the NIRA rodeo in Alpine), and the spring semester includes six NIRA rodeos.
The College National Finals Rodeo is held the third week of June in Casper, Wyoming.
Rodeo at Sul Ross is a budgeted sport funded by the university through student activity fees and by fundraisers within the Rodeo Club.
Travel money for coaches and team members, and practice stock for rough stock riders, ropers and steer wrestlers, as well as breakaway calves and goats are furnished and cared for through these funds.
The club holds fundraisers such as The Cowboy Christmas Ball (December), Team Ropings (summer and occasionally Wednesday nights), Barrel Racings and dances. Events are often held in conjunction with the Sul Ross Rodeo Exes Reunion and Rodeo (July) and the Big Bend Ranch Rodeo (August).
Sul Ross has great facilities, which include a lighted covered arena, known as the S.A.L.E. arena, an outdoor arena and 22 covered stalls.
Download the Rodeo Scholarship Application.
Sul Ross rodeo athletes practice according to their needs and their competition schedule.
The Sul Ross rodeo program provides practice stock leased from local stock producers for scheduled rodeo practice sessions.
Practice sessions are generally held Monday through Thursday. In the weeks the rodeo team travels, practice sessions are only held on Monday through Wednesday. Participants wishing to practice at times other than scheduled practice sessions must make arrangements.
Except for specific situations, practice stock and arena facilities will only be available during scheduled sessions.
Practice sessions are formatted similar to an actual rodeo. Participants are expected to be ready when their event is called and will be required to assist each other in running their own event, including working the chutes and handling the livestock.
A Brief History
On November 6, 1949, Sul Ross College held an invitational rodeo, as was the custom with schools who had enough cowboys to do the work. At this rodeo Hank Finger, a Sul Ross student, asked permission to hold a meeting with the cowboys from the various schools to talk about the need for some sort of organization for college rodeo cowboys.
Representatives from 12 colleges throughout Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado attended, and it was the consensus of the group that they wanted a year-long point-award system, standardized rules, leadership and responsibility on the part of its members.
Hank Finger was appointed constitutional committee chairman to draw up some ideas and plans into a votable form, and they would meet again in two months in Dallas to discuss the constitution. This historical event became the birth of what today is known as the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association.
News spread quickly that the "colleges may organize," and at the meeting in Dallas, Carl Garrison, manager of the San Francisco Cow Palace, offered an invitational championship rodeo to start the new year with purpose. The rodeo was held in conjunction with his Grand National Junior Livestock Exposition and was open to any college with enough cowboys to field a six-man team. This was the first NIRA Championship Rodeo and was held in April 1949.
Though everyone thought the more sophisticated west-coast team of Cal Poly was sure to walk away with the finals, it was Sul Ross that took it with an "unknown" cowboy by the name of Harley May. Sul Ross went on to win the National title in 1940, 1950 and 1951. They are still a force to be reckoned with and have won a total of eight national titles, placed in the top 10 at the College National Finals Rodeo 33 times and have had six all-around cowboys and cowgirls.