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College National Finals Rodeo canceled due to pandemic

News Staff - April 9, 2020

WALLA WALLA, WA. -The NIRA National Office announced the cancellation of the 2020 College National Finals Rodeo, which were to take place June 14-June 20 in Casper, WY. The office announced public safety during the COVID-19 outbreak as the reason, citing the public's safety is the most important concern.

The NIRA had already canceled the vast majority of the spring season due to the pandemic with the qualifiers determined by the fall schedule.

In a statement posted on Facebook, NIRA Commissioner Roger Walters said, “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.”

 “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,” the announcement states. “We know that every student athlete, coach, school administrator, parent, and fan, grieves the loss of this special event. This is devastating for all of us, but mostly for the NIRA athletes. We share your grief. This is unprecedented. May we all heal, extend grace, and recover to a better world.”

The annual season-ending college rodeo draws competitors from across the country to Casper and is a major economic boon to the Casper area. According to city officials, the cancellation of this year’s CNFR will have a $1.9 million economic impact on the community. Still, they note the health, safety and well-being of the athletes, families, fans and residents is more significant.

Recently, NIRA director of public relations and administration Sarah Neely said the NIRA board, which is comprised of faculty directors and student directors from each of the NIRA’s 11 regions, planned on having a video conference meeting May 14 to make a recommendation on whether the CNFR would go on as scheduled. Ultimately, as the coronavirus continues to spread,  NIRA officials determined it was in the best interest to cancel it now rather than wait.

According to Neely, the differences in the spread and varying restrictions among the states makes it difficult to move forward.  NIRA officials decided it is easier to make the call sooner rather than later.

The NIRA National Office continues to be on a stay at home order from the Washington State Governor until May 4th. Staff are working off-site checking email and voice mail daily.


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