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June 1, 2012

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COLUMBIA, S.C. – The Southeastern Conference announced on Friday that it will sponsor a championship in the sport of equestrian beginning with the 2012-2013 season. The decision was made on Friday at the SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla.

Equestrian is the SEC’s 21st sport and is the first championship to be added since softball was added 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.

South Carolina head coach Boo Major on today’s announcement: “This is not only a special day for all of our teams, but this is a very big day for the sport of equestrian. There have been a lot of people who have worked tirelessly for years to help us reach this goal. All of our coaches, administrators, and supporters have been great to work with and we are excited to see our sport reach this milestone. I personally want to thank our athletic director Eric Hyman for his leadership and to our President Dr. Pastides who has been a tremendous supporter of our team. I also want to thank all of the conference presidents and athletic directors, as well as Commissioner Slive and his staff for their work on this. South Carolina, Auburn, Georgia, and Texas A&M are the only schools that have won the overall national championship in collegiate equestrian, and I have no doubt that all of these schools will represent the Southeastern Conference in a first class manner for many years to come.”