Montana State University President Waded Cruzado says that MSU is well on its way to its goal of raising $1 million for rodeo, thanks to a lead give of $250,000 from Konrad and Betty Reinke of Yuma, Ariz.
MSU will be one of the first universities in the nation to have an endowment of more than $1 million for its rodeo program.
Cruzado credited a devoted group of rodeo supporters for what she calls "The Magnificent Seven" with jumpstarting the initiative in coordination with the MSU Alumni Foundation.
"Mike Hope, Butch Bratsky, Mark Norem and Ryan Elliott brought these unique needs to my attention last fall," says Cruzado. "These four, along with Bill Davis, Dean Folkvord and Tom Holland – The Magnificent Seven – have made it their mission to see that our rodeo student athletes are taken care of now and into the future."
Once the endowment is fully funded, it will provide scholarships and other support to students in the MSU rodeo program.
"Rodeo and MSU are synonymous," says Cruzado. "Many of our students grew up with rodeo, ranching and agriculture, and the sport has a rich history here at our school. Seven of the national championship banners that hang in Brick Breeden Fieldhouse belong to our rodeo teams, and we have had 31 individual national champions in rodeo as well."
Financial support is vital to students who participate in rodeo, he adds, which is considered to be a club sport at MSU and operates under the Department of Student Affairs. In addition to tuition and fees, room, and board, and the expenses typically associated with college, these students also have to bear the cost of boarding, feeding and transporting their animals to and from school and competition sites.
"We are incredibly grateful for the Reinkes' leadership gift," notes Cruzado. "They have been coming to, and supporting, our rodeos for 15 years, and they truly understand the challenges that these student athletes face."