CASPER, Wyo. -- College rodeo stars won't have a shot to earn 2020 national titles.
The College National Finals Rodeo, originally scheduled for June 14-20 at the Casper Events Center, has been canceled. The National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association announced the news on Wednesday.
"It is with very heavy hearts that the NIRA and the CNFR Committee announce the cancellation of the 2020 College National Finals Rodeo, June 14th – 20th. As everyone involved with this event can testify, this is not the outcome we were hoping for, but public safety during the COVID-19 Pandemic is our most important concern," a statement on the CNFR website read on Wednesday afternoon.
The CNFR and NIRA originally set a "call date" of May 14 with plans to make a decision of the week-long rodeo that brings in hundreds of the best collegiate competitors in the nation. But both organizations determined "public safety was too large of an issue to wait until May."
“We are devastated to be making this announcement. We wanted to be competing in Casper this summer, but we have to do the right thing to combat this Pandemic and keep our contestants and the State of Wyoming safe,” NIRA commissioner Roger Walters said in a release.
Last month, the NIRA made the recommendation to suspend or reschedule spring rodeos. Montana State's rodeo team postponed its spring rodeo, which was scheduled to begin April 2, for a to-be-determined date.
The CNFR has showcased some of rodeo's top talent, with the rodeo sparking many professional careers. Montana cowboys and cowgirls have performed historically well at the event, with the likes of Jarrett Monroe (Browning and Montana Western saddle bronc rider), Dustin Jenkins (Missoula Big Sky and University of Montana bull rider) and just last year Haven Meged (Miles City and Tarleton State tie-down roper) winning college world titles. Multiple out-of-state athletes attending Montana schools like Montana State or Montana Western have also won CNFR titles.
Montana schools Dawson Community College, Miles Community College, Montana State University, MSU-Northern, Montana, Montana Western and the University of Providence all compete in the Big Sky Region with Northwest College in Wyoming.