- Associated Press - Thursday, June 4, 2015

BROOKINGS, S.D. (AP) - The fate of South Dakota State University’s equestrian program lies with an upcoming NCAA decision and won’t be affected by the departure of the program’s head coach, school athletic director Justin Sell said.

Coach Megan Rossiter is leaving, effective June 30, to pursue other opportunities, after leading SDSU’s program to the National Collegiate Equestrian Association National Championships twice in four years.

NCAA officials are expected to decide later this month whether to continue recognizing equestrian as an intercollegiate sport. If the NCAA continues to recognize the horse-riding sport, SDSU will continue to field a team through its athletic department, Sell told the Argus Leader (http://argusne.ws/1BLKx7l ). If the NCAA decision goes the other way, SDSU would make equestrian a club sports program, he said.

In the meantime, SDSU will look for a new head coach.

“As long as the NCAA continues to recognize (the sport), we’re moving forward,” Sell said.

The NCAA classified equestrian as “an emerging sport” in 2002, and it was given 10 years to reach 40 members. As of last fall, only 22 schools were offering the sport, and some were making plans to cancel it.

If the SDSU athletic department were to stop sanctioning equestrian, it likely would have to add another women’s sport or two to remain in compliance with federal law aimed at ensuring equal opportunity for women in academic settings.

“You’re talking about taking 46 women out of the mix,” Sell said. “We’ve had plenty of conversations about what we’d do.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, http://www.argusleader.com

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