When most people think of college sports their thoughts most often turn to sports such as football or basketball. However, one of the oldest and most popular college sports over the last 65 years has been college rodeo. With its emphasis on tough but fair competition and non-stop excitement, it has grown from humble beginnings to finding itself broadcast on ABCs “Wide World of Sports” in later years and gaining the attention of national sponsors. As a result, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association was formed in 1949 to help the sport grow among the many colleges and universities across the United States.
What is the NIRA?
The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association (NIRA), at its first convention in 1949, established three regions of competition: Northwest, Southern, and Rocky Mountain. The NIRA is responsible for creating rules and regulations for the sport, overseeing competitions, promoting the sport and seeing that it continues to grow. Dedicated to preserving Western heritage through college rodeo, the NIRA today has 137 member schools participating and more than 3,500 student-athletes competing in its various events.
What Schools are Members of NIRA?
Most of the colleges included in the NIRA are located in the western United States. Some of the most notable schools include:
Along with these schools, many other schools are now starting to examine the possibility of adding rodeo to their roster of scholarship sports in which students can participate.
Famous Alumni of the NIRA
One of the proudest achievements of the NIRA has been seeing some of its former student-athletes graduate and go on to have highly successful careers in professional rodeo. Some of the most famous alumni of NIRA include:
With the success of these competitors, those who are currently competing in college rodeo can realize their dreams of professional rodeo careers can also come to fruition through competing for their schools.
Just like other rodeos, college rodeo competitors showcase their skills in numerous events. Some examples include:
Like other sports, competitors in these events look for the best possible scores that will eventually make them national champions.
As the sport of rodeo continues to grow in popularity, the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association is growing as well. With national sponsors such as Wrangler and Ram, along with the creation of the NIRA Foundation to assist those competitors who sustain injuries, college rodeo seems poised to provide even more excitement in the coming years.