Golden Grizzlies win 2021 McCafferty Trophy


Noora Neiroukh

Oakland University Athletics won the McCafferty Trophy for the first time since 2018.

Oakland University Athletics has won the Horizon League McCafferty Trophy for the fifth time since joining the conference in 2013, according to a press release

Named in honor of James J. McCafferty, who served as the conference’s first commissioner from 1979-80, the McCafferty Trophy is awarded annually by the Horizon League to a member institution compiling the greatest number of performance points, based on its finish in the league’s 19 championship sports.

For the sports of men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, softball and baseball, points are awarded based on combined regular season (60%) and championship (40%) finishes. For all other sports, points are based on performance in the league championships.

Oakland tied with Youngstown State with 43 points, making them co-champions. The Golden Grizzlies finished at the top of the men’s sports standings with 25 points, while the women gathered 18 points of their own. 

Athletic Director Steve Waterfield said he is proud of everybody that made this happen.

“I’m proud of the student athletes, the coaches, the staff, not just athletic department staff but university staff,” Waterfield said. “Because, as we all know, it was certainly a challenging year and to engage in intercollegiate athletics in such a challenging year — I’m really just proud of everybody for the accomplishment. I told them at the beginning of the season just getting to competitions was going to be a success and not surprisingly the Golden Grizzly student athletes exceeded. [They] not only got to the competitions but performed very very well.”

Waterfield cited “broad based excellence” as well as coaches that have found sustained success as reasons that Oakland is able to compete for the award every single year.

“We’ve got a number of sports programs that have success that contribute to winning the trophy,” Waterfield said. “Not only do you have that broad base, but you have coaches that have been here and built sustained success. That to me is unique to Oakland. At this level to have so many Division-I head coaches that have been here not just years, but decades: Paul Rice, Pete Hovland, Greg Kampe, Jeff Tungate, Eric Pogue, and then ones that are newer have had success. Nick Pumford for men’s golf, Lauren Karn for softball and I’m missing some. So you add those two together and it creates that broad base. We’re not relying on one or two sports, a lot of sports contribute to it.”

Waterfield said the goal for Golden Grizzlies is to win the trophy every year.

“That’s one of our key performance indicators, ‘are we winning it or not,’” Waterfield said. “Now, if we don’t win it would I consider the season a failure? No, but what I do is say ‘okay what can we do to put ourselves in a position to win it the next year.’ You never take it for granted. One of the things I tell staff and coaches all the time is enjoy winning because it’s tough to do. It’s not easy to win championships and to win at a high level, no matter how often you win so enjoy that. So let’s enjoy it.”