Cruzado credited a devoted group of rodeo supporters that she called "The Magnificent Seven" with jumpstarting the initiative in coordination with the MSU Alumni Foundation. 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," Cruzado said. "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."
According to Cruzado, financial support is especially vital to students who participate in rodeo, which is a club sport at MSU and operates under the Department of Student Affairs. In addition to tuition and fees, room and board, and the other 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 competitions.
"Mike Hope, Butch Bratsky, Mark Norem and Ryan Elliott brought these unique needs to my attention last fall," Cruzado said. "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."
Cruzado said that the group reminded her of the leadership of the Bobcat Quarterback Club, who, together with the MSU Alumni Foundation, successfully raised the funds necessary in 2010 to expand Bobcat Stadium last year. The Magnificent Seven have donated tens of thousands of dollars of their own money and have provided countless hours of volunteer support for this project, she said.
"With this group, there is no reason that we will not succeed," Cruzado said.
Mike True, who has been the head coach of the Bobcat rodeo team for the past seven years, is excited about the developments over the past few months.
"We are incredibly grateful for the Reinkes' leadership gift," True said. "They have been coming to, and supporting, our rodeos for 15 years, and they truly understand the challenges that these student-athletes face. Thanks to their generosity, talented cowboys and cowgirls won't have to make a choice between school and rodeo when they come to MSU."
Members of the current Bobcat rodeo team are a cross-section of the general student body. Academic majors include cell biology, mechanical engineering, film and political science, along with the expected majors like equine science.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the rodeo endowment can call the MSU Alumni Foundation at 1-800-457-1696 or 406-994-2053.
Phillip Luebke, 406-994-2416, firstname.lastname@example.org