Marvin Vanover, Peach Belt Conference - Founding Father

Marvin Vanover, Peach Belt Conference - Founding Father

Marvin Vanover was the first commissioner of the Peach Belt Conference and served in that capacity for 16 years.  Beginning in 1989, 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.

His term as commissioner followed a 25-year career as the head men’s basketball coach and athletic director at Augusta University.

Under his leadership, the Peach Belt Conference grew into one of the preeminent Division II Conferences in the nation with 24 National Championships in his 16 years. Peach Belt Conference teams won national titles in men’s basketball, women’s tennis, men’s tennis, softball and baseball in his tenure and over 300 PBC student-athletes were been named All-Americans.

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.

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.

The PBC men’s and women’s basketball tournament was renamed the Marvin Vanover Peach Belt Conference Basketball Championships in 2008 and the road leading to Augusta University’s Christenberry Fieldhouse was renamed Vanover Drive in 2009.

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