Augusta, Ga. –Francis Marion University has won the Peach Belt Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Cup competition for the second straight year. The announcement was made Saturday (May 22) during the conference’s annual meeting in Augusta, Ga., by PBAC commissioner Marvin Vanover.
The Commissioner’s Cup is awarded annually to the institution finishing with the highest overall point total based on its finish in each of the 11 PBAC sponsored sports.
Francis Marion registered 100.5 points to outdistance the University of North Florida (93.5 points) in the eighth-annual competition. No other school registered more than 79 points. The seven-point winning margin equaled the second largest in PBAC history. FMU becomes the third repeat winner of the competition, joining Kennesaw State University (1996, 1997) and USC Spartanburg (1992-95).
Unlike 1998, when FMU captured the Commissioner’s Cup without winning a conference title, this year the Patriots won two PBAC championships outright (women’s basketball and golf) and shared two other titles (men’s tennis and women’s volleyball). Other conference finishes for FMU included a third-place finish in men’s soccer, fourth-place finishes in women’s cross country and women’s tennis, a fifth-place finish in men’s cross country, a sixth-place finish in women’s softball, a sixth-place tie in men’s basketball, and a ninth-place finish in baseball.
In addition to sharing the regular season crown, the Patriot women’s volleyball team also won the conference tournament.
“To win the Commissioner’s Cup two years in a row is just fantastic,” said FMU athletic director Gerald Griffin. “Last year, we were elated to win the cup, but the second time might be even sweeter. This validates our efforts to have the strongest all-around athletic program in what is arguably the strongest Division II conference in the country.
“Again this year, it has been a ‘team effort’ with all of our sports programs contributing. As athletic director, I am very proud of our student-athletes and our coaching staff for their efforts over the past year. Winning this award, while having our student-athletes also enjoy a high level of success in the classroom is also very gratifying. In addition, I want to thank our many supporters who have helped to make our athletic program what it is today.”
During the year, six FMU athletic squads advanced to NCAA Division II national tournament play, and six were ranked in their respective national Top 25 polls for at least one week. Of the FMU athletic squads that calculate won-loss records (excluding the cross country and track and field teams that compete in large invitational meets), seven posted winning percentages above .630 (including five above .750).
The women’s basketball team finished with a 27-3 record and advanced to the “Sweet Sixteen,” as did the men’s tennis team, while equaling its single-season record for wins (18-5 record). The Patriot volleyball team posted a 27-6 record, won its second straight PBAC tournament title and second regular-season crown in three years, and earned the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament invitation. The women’s soccer
(15-4-0) and women’s tennis (14-8) teams both advanced to NCAA tournament play, while the Patriot men’s soccer squad enjoyed its most successful season ever (15-4-1).
The Patriot golf team recorded a 122-63 mark against one of its toughest schedules ever, while the women’s softball team won 25 games for the fifth consecutive season. The women’s cross country team equaled its best PBAC finish and placed ninth (its best finish ever) at the Southeast Regional Meet, while the men finished fifth at the PBAC meet and recorded their third top 10 finish (10th) at the regional meet. The Patriot men’s cage team posted a 16-12 mark against one of the most arduous schedules in team history.
FMU placed second in the 1997 Commissioner’s Cup competition, third in 1996, second in 1995, eighth in 1994, second in 1993, and eighth in 1992.
The Peach Belt is 12-member NCAA Division II conference with members located in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.