The Auburn equestrian team won its fifth national championship in school history yesterday, beating top-ranked Georgia in Waco for the title. Greg Williams’ Tigers overcame a power outage and took down the Bulldogs 10-5 for the championship. Auburn also won team titles in 2006, 2011, 2013, and 2016, and the equestrian team has been the most successful program under Williams’ leadership.
For the scoring recap, you can check out AuburnTigers.com and their full write-up, but more importantly this is a return to the dynastic ways of one of university’s best sports. While it’s not a fully NCAA-sanctioned sport, and while the NCEA (National Collegiate Equestrian Association) only includes 20 Divison I schools, it’s still a big deal. Of those schools, Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas A&M are other SEC participants, joining several Texas-based Big 12 members and Clemson as well.
Obviously, when the revenue sports are performing well, like football and basketball have both done this past season, it’s very nice to see upper-echelon performances from the Olympic sports. For years, Auburn’s swimming and diving program was the best in the country under David Marsh, winning thirteen national titles between 1990 and 2010 (men and women combined). Now, with the swimming program in a relative funk (no SEC titles since 2012), the equestrian team has taken the championship mantle.
In terms of the athletic department as a whole, right now it spells a solid start for Allen Greene, who’s in the early honeymoon phase of his tenure as athletic director. Greene has come during basketball’s run to its first conference title in nineteen years, and in the throes of a national title for equestrian. That’s not even including two ranked teams on the diamond in baseball (who just swept Alabama) and softball. With upgraded facilities projects being approved recently, it looks like Auburn will continue to build upon the success of its Olympic sports programs.