Brown University News Bureau

The Brown University News Bureau

1995-1996 index

Distributed May 30, 1996
Contact: Richard Morin

Brown to establish donor-funded varsity equestrian team

A gift from Brown parents Dennis and Cynthia Suskind of New York will allow the University to establish a donor-funded coed varsity equestrian team. Funding for the team has been guaranteed for five years.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- A $150,000 lead gift from Dennis and Cynthia Suskind of New York, parents of a 1995 Brown graduate, has allowed Brown University to establish a donor-funded coed varsity equestrian team, according to an announcement today by Brown Director of Athletics David Roach. The University has offered equestrian competition at the club level for more than a decade.

The varsity team of approximately 25 competitors, the great majority of whom will be women, will begin varsity intercollegiate competition in the 1996-97 academic year. It will compete in Region I of the Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) against Connecticut College, Johnson and Wales University, Roger Williams College, Salve Regina University, Stonehill College, Trinity College, University of Connecticut, the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth and others. The University will identify a suitable local equestrian facility at which to base the varsity program.

During the last five years, data gathered through Brown's admission office show that horseback riding, including equestrian competition, has been the most frequently cited student sporting interest in which Brown does not currently offer a varsity-level program. Partly because Brown already offers 34 varsity-level teams, the University is unable to provide funding for additional varsity-level sports.

Brown does, however, have a procedure which allows teams to qualify for varsity status through donor funding if they can demonstrate sufficient interest, viability and financial support. The equestrian club has met the criteria. After a careful review of the club's proposal, the University has approved the change in status.

Additional funding has been secured from other alumni, parents and friends of Brown to cover the cost of the equestrian team for its first five years - a total of $200,000. As part of its multi-year review process, Brown requires teams to obtain guaranteed funding for five years before they can be considered for varsity status.

"On several occasions in recent years, I have assured faculty, students and the Brown Corporation that growth in our athletic program will depend entirely on gifts and increased team revenues," said Brown President Vartan Gregorian. "I am delighted that the Suskinds and others have come forward. Their support has enabled our athletic program to add a varsity team in response to demonstrated student interest and to do it without additional University funding."

The IHSA, established in 1967 and now representing more than 220 colleges and universities, promotes competition for riders of all skill levels individually and as teams at regional, zone and national levels. The goal of IHSA competition is to offer opportunities to novice riders as well as to riders with show experience. Eliminating the expense of shipping or even owning horses puts IHSA competition within the reach of many who would otherwise miss the equestrian experience.

In IHSA competition, no rider may use his or her own horse. All riders are mounted on horses supplied through the host college, with each horse being drawn by lot. The use of personal tack is not allowed, and schooling is not permitted. This approach is designed to equalize competition variables in order to test the ability of the rider and his or her horsemanship skills. Class levels range from walk-trot for competitors in their first year of riding to the open division for the experienced rider. In addition to qualifying individual riders for the nationals, each region is represented by its high-point college team in competition for the national championship.