AUGUSTA, Ga. – Marvin Vanover, who was the Director of Athletics and head men's basketball coach for the Augusta Jaguars for 25 years, passed away in the early morning hours of May 19, 2017. He was 85.
Vanover was also 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. Vanover was inducted into the inaugural class of Peach Belt Conference Hall of Fame in 2016 and was dubbed a founding father of the PBC.
"Augusta University, the city of Augusta, and intercollegiate athletics lost a giant of a man in the passing of Marvin Vanover," Director of Athletics Clint Bryant said. "Our athletic department and I personally are forever grateful for all that he stood for and the manner in which he lived his life. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his family and all that knew him. Jaguar Nation Mourns."
Under his leadership, the Peach Belt grew into one of the preeminent Division II conferences in the nation with 24 National Championships in his 16 years. PBC 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.
Vanover continued to support the Jaguars after his retirement in 2006 and held reserved seats for men's and women's basketball in Christenberry Fieldhouse (May 2017)
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 No. 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 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.
NAIA Championship banners in Christenberry Fieldhouse. Vanover guided Augusta to back-to-back NAIA District 25 Championships. He was named the 1970 NAIA District 25 Coach of the Year and the College Basketball Coach of the Year for the state 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 was 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.
Funeral arrangements will be announced by the family in the coming days. This release will be updated as that information becomes available.
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