Whether an active rodeo participant, eager to learn, or if you just enjoy the western 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 Team and purchase your National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association membership. The Rodeo Club 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 & Funding

Sul Ross is in the Southwest region, which includes several junior colleges as well as universities. Sul Ross competes in five NIRA rodeos each fall, including Alpine, and five in the spring. The College National Finals Rodeo is held each year in 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 hosts fundraisers such as the Brand’em Ball, team roping, barrel races and other events, 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, including a lighted covered arena, known as the S.A.L.E. arena, an outdoor arena and 100 covered stalls.

SALE Arena Exterior
SALE Arena Interior


Scholarships are available for rodeo participants at Sul Ross.

Practice Schedule

Sul Ross rodeo athletes practice according to their needs and their competition schedule.

The Sul Ross rodeo program provides practice stock for scheduled rodeo practice sessions daily.

Practice sessions are generally held Monday through Friday. In the weeks the rodeo team travels, practice sessions are only held Monday through Wednesday.

Except for specific situations, practice stock and arena facilities will only be available during scheduled sessions.

Practice sessions are formatted like an actual rodeo. Participants are expected to be ready when their event is called, and will be required to assist each other, including working the chutes and handling the livestock during practice.

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. 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.

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 points system, standardized rules, leadership and responsibility on the part of its members.

Finger was appointed constitutional committee chairman to create plans on which they would vote, when they met again two months in Dallas. 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 in April 1949 and was open to any college with enough cowboys to field a six-man team. This was the first NIRA Championship Rodeo.

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 1949, 1950 and 1951. They remain a force with a total of nine championships and placed in the top 10 at the College National Finals Rodeo 34 times with six all-around cowboys and cowgirls.