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For week ended June 20, 1999 Posted 26 Jun 1999

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College (SVC) to drop equestrian program

Summarized by Kent Larsen

College (SVC) to drop equestrian program
Richmond VA Times-Dispatch 19Jun99 C4
By Calvin R. Trice: Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

BUENA VISTA, VIRGINIA -- Southern Virginia College's famous equestrian program has been cancelled. The program, sometimes referred to as the "horses on the hill," has been at the school for more than 100 years, winning the school eight national championships and 13 regional titles and serving as the school's calling card to the world.

The program is a victim of the schools finances before 1996 and its change in focus after the purchase of the school by members of the LDS Church in that year. Since then, the main draw for students to attend SVC has been its LDS atmosphere, while before 1996, students often came to be part of the program. SVC spokeswoman Johnell Swan said the program was loosing money for the school, "It wasn't the draw for the school the way it was before," Swan said. "The draw since [1996] has been the LDS atmosphere."

The horses still in the progam were old and past their competitive prime, meaning that to keep the program viable significant investment would be required. The expensive program has been loosing about $100,000 a year since a fall in enrollment began in 1994.

Still, some officials believe that the program may return. SVC Board of Trustees chairman Glade Knight is among them. "We have to find the interest of the students, which we think will be there," Knight said. "I'm confident that, with the people I know in the horse business, when we can start back up we can have high-quality horses donated for the program."

And 1979 program alumna Carolyn Hedrick-Williams, while disappointed that the program has been discontinued, is glad that the college is still there. "Whenever you think of the college, no matter what its name was, you think of the horses on the hill," said Hedrick-Williams. "I'm still glad that the college remains a college, but I'm saddened the horses won't be there."

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information