Peach Belt Conference
|Peach Belt Conference
|Sports fielded||15 (men's: 7; women's: 8)|
|Region||Southeastern United States|
|Commissioner||David Brunk (since 2007)|
The Peach Belt Conference (PBC) is a collegiate athletic conference affiliated with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)'s Division II level. Since its inception in 1990-91, the Peach Belt has developed a consistent history of excellence which continues to this day with 30 national championships and 27 national finalists. Starting with only two championships in 1991, in men’s and women’s basketball, the conference has expanded to 13 championship sports with the addition of women’s golf in the fall of 2009.
The conference traces its roots back to November 1988 when 11 schools first met in Greenville, S.C. to form a Division II conference. Following a second meeting on Dec. 3, 1989, five of those 11 schools, plus two others, formed the Peach Belt and begin play in fall 1990.
The seven charter members of the conference were Armstrong Atlantic State University, Columbus State University, Francis Marion University, Georgia College & State University (then Georgia College), Lander University, USC Aiken, and USC Upstate. The name Peach Belt Athletic Conference was adopted in January 1990 and modified to Peach Belt Conference in May 2000.
Augusta State University joined the conference in 1991 and UNC Pembroke became the ninth member on July 1, 1992. They were followed by Kennesaw State University on July 1, 1994, Clayton State University on July 1, 1995 and the University of North Florida on July 1, 1997. Kennesaw State and North Florida departed for the Division I ranks in 2005, USC Upstate did the same in 2007, and the conference welcomed in North Georgia College & State University in 2005 and Georgia Southwestern State University in 2006. In 2009-10, the Peach Belt expanded to 13 members, the most the league has ever had, with the additions of the University of Montevallo and Flagler College. The two schools also returned a league presence to Florida and broke new ground in Alabama. In 2012, Augusta State was merged into Georgia Regents University Augusta, and NGCSU was merged into the University of North Georgia in 2013; in both cases, the new institutions inherited the Peach Belt memberships of the older schools.
The Peach Belt was less than a year old before capturing its first of many national championships. The Columbus State golf team took the honor by winning the 1992 national crown, the first of three golf championships the Cougars own. One year later, the Lander men's tennis team began their record-breaking run of eight straight national titles, the first PBC dynasty. Since then, USCA men's golf has won three straight national titles from 2004-06 while AASU women's tennis has captured four titles overall.
The 2010-11 season was one of the most memorable the league has ever had. Clayton State became the first PBC women’s basketball team to capture a national championship. Montevallo watched their men's basketball team reach the Elite Eight, eventually competing in the National Championship Game. Unfortunately, their run came to an end with a loss to Western Washington University. The Columbus State men’s tennis team reached the national semifinals while the Clayton State and Armstrong Atlantic State women’s tennis teams also played in the national semifinals. The North Georgia softball team made an unprecedented third straight appearance in the NCAA Women’s College World Series, while Columbus State’s Meshack Koyiaki registered a runner-up finish at the Men’s Cross Country National Championships. In all, 46 Peach Belt teams made appearances in the NCAA postseason, including seven men’s tennis teams and six each in the sports of men’s golf and women’s tennis.
David Brunk was named the second PBC commissioner in May 2007. Brunk replaced Marvin Vanover, who was the first PBC commissioner from 1991 to 2007. Brunk is charged with continuing the strong growth of the conference as its second era begins.
Dr. Kendall Blanchard, president of Georgia Southwestern State University, began the second of his two-year term as the league president in July 2011.
The conference currently holds championships in 13 sports, six for men and seven for women. They are men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s soccer, volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s tennis, baseball, softball and men’s and women’s golf.
The league currently has 14 full members:
- Georgia Regents was created by the merger of Augusta State University, founded in 1785, and the Georgia Health Sciences University, founded in 1829.
- Georgia Regents inherited the Peach Belt membership of Augusta State, which was the only one of the two predecessor institutions that had an intercollegiate athletic program. The GRU athletic program continued to use "Augusta State" through the 2012–13 school year.
- The University of North Georgia was created by the merger of North Georgia College & State University, founded in 1873, and Gainesville State College. founded in 1964.
- UNG inherited the Peach Belt membership of NGCSU, which was the only one of the two predecessor institutions that had an intercollegiate athletic program.
|Auburn University at Montgomery||Montgomery, Alabama||1967||Public||5,079||Warhawks||2014-15|
- Note: The future membership of Auburn Montgomery became questionable when, on July 26, 2013, the NCAA rejected the school's bid for membership.
|Kennesaw State University||Kennesaw, Georgia||Owls||1963||Public||24,600||1994||2005||Atlantic Sun|
|University of North Florida||Jacksonville, Florida||Ospreys||1969||Public||16,372||1997||2005||Atlantic Sun|
|University of South Carolina Upstate||Spartanburg, South Carolina||Spartans||1967||Public||5,495||1990||2007||Atlantic Sun|
- "Peach Belt Conference History". Peach Belt Conference. Retrieved 2012-05-06.