AUGUSTA, Ga. --
Marvin Vanover, the only commissioner the Peach Belt Conference has
ever had and the former Athletic Director and Head Basketball Coach
at Augusta College, announced his retirement at a press conference
in Augusta on Thursday. Vanover, who coached basketball at
Augusta State University for 25 years before helping found the
Peach Belt, will retire on June 30, 2007, bringing an end to a
prestigious career in collegiate athletics.
“This is the right time for me to step aside,” said Vanover. “I’ve had a good career, I’d just like to do some other things in my life, travel, spend time with my family. Do a lot of things that I haven’t had an opportunity to do. I’ve enjoyed my work so much through the years I’ll always attend a lot of the events. I guess I’ll just have to start buying a ticket to go.”
Beginning in 1989, Coach Vanover became involved with the initial planning of the Peach Belt Conference and was asked to serve as an interim commissioner in April of 1990 for one year. He was named the PBC’s first full-time commissioner in June of 1991.
“We are immensely grateful to have worked so closely with Commissioner Vanover,” said Dr. Thomas Jones, president of Armstrong Atlantic State University and PBC president for the 2006-07 season. “He has been the only commissioner the conference has had and through his leadership and guidance he has established one of the outstanding conferences in all of Division II. Speaking for the Board of Directors and my fellow presidents, we are sorry to see him go but wish him the best and thank him for leaving such a legacy behind.”
Under his tenure, the Peach Belt Conference has grown into one of the preeminent Division II Conferences in the nation with 24 National Championships in only 16 years. In 2006, the USC Aiken men’s golf team won their third straight national title, bringing the conference its 24th title. The PBC has also fielded 22 national finalists, including the 2006 Armstrong Atlantic State women’s tennis team and the Columbus State men’s golf team, who finished second to USCA. Peach Belt Conference teams have won national titles in men’s basketball, women’s tennis, men’s tennis, softball and baseball. Over 300 PBC student-athletes have been named All-Americans in the conference’s history.
“I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work for a board of directors and an athletic directors council that have been so committed to the development of this conference,” said Vanover. “They made my work so much easier and much more fun and allowed us to reach the stature the conference has achieved.”
As a coach, Vanover led the Jaguars for 23 years including two straight NAIA District 25 championships in 1970 and ‘71. Aside from winning the regional and advancing to the NAIA national tournament, the 1969-70 team was ranked #5 in the nation with a 27-3 overall record, the best by a Vanover-led team. In 1978 he led the team to their first NCAA Division II Tournament appearance, where the Jaguars faced current Division I power Central Florida.
It was also during this time that Vanover produced All-Americans Joe McBride (1970) and Chip Wilson (1971). Coach Vanover also received many accolades of his own including the NAIA District 25 Coach of the Year and the Georgia Collegiate Coach of the Year from the Atlanta Tipoff Club for the 1969-70 season. It was also during this time that “Marvin Vanover Day” was declared in Augusta on February 14, 1970, and he was named a Kentucky Colonel by the Governor of his home state. He received a certificate of commendation from the mayor of Augusta and the Georgia state senate, as well as a commendation presented personally by the Governor of Georgia.
He went on to be named Coach of the Year in 1975-76 and in 1980-81 from the South Atlantic Conference as he moved the Jaguar program to the NCAA Division II level. In 1980-81 he was also named Coach of the Year in the NCAA’s south district by the National Association of Basketball Coaches. The road leading to ASU’s Fieldhouse was named in his honor on Nov. 18, 2003, which was also declared Marvin Vanover day in Augusta.
Vanover served as the commissioner of the South Atlantic Conference in 1981-82 and was instrumental in moving the Augusta College program up to the NCAA Division I level as a part of the newly formed Big South Conference in 1983.
“This was a difficult decision, but it is my second retirement,” said Vanover with a smile. “You get to know people in athletics in ways you don’t in other aspects of life. And you come away with a lot of respect, the coach or player you battle the hardest against can become your lifelong friend, that’s just the nature of athletics. I am fortunate to have many people who I consider friends at every school I have either coached for or against or who have been a part of the Peach Belt Conference. I will take those friendships with me, its one of the greatest rewards of my career.”
A native of Harlan, Ky., Vanover graduated from Georgia Southern University with a B.S. in Physical Education and has served on the GSU alumni board. He was awarded the Lettermen Club Award from his alma mater in 1980 and also holds a master’s degree in Physical Education from Peabody College. He is the proud father of two children, a daughter, Holly, and a son, Derek.
Dr. Jones stated that the Peach Belt board of directors, comprised of the presidents of the member schools, will convene soon to establish the search and screening process for a new PBC Commissioner. Applications and nominations for the position will not be accepted until an official public notification of the search is announced.