JACKSONVILLE, FLA. – Francis Marion University finished second in the 1999-2000 Peach Belt Athletic Conference Commissioner’s Cup competition. The announcement was made Thursday (May 18) during the conference’s annual meeting in Jacksonville, Fla., 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 88.0 points and trailed only the University of North Florida (94.5 points) in the ninth-annual competition. FMU won the competition each of the past two years.
The high finish was achieved without winning a conference title, but the Patriots placed second in four sports (women’s volleyball and basketball, men’s tennis, and golf). Other conference finishes for FMU included a third-place finish in men’s soccer, fifth-place finishes in women’s cross country and baseball, a seventh-place finish in women’s tennis, eighth-place finishes in men’s cross country and women’s softball, and a 10th-place tie in men’s basketball.
In addition to these strong regular season showings, the Patriot men’s soccer team also won its first conference tournament title, while enjoying its finest season in history (17-3-1).
“Although we missed out on our third straight Commissioner’s Cup trophy, second place is nothing to be ashamed of,” said FMU athletic director Gerald Griffin. “We enjoyed our reign at the top, but now the program has something to shoot for next year. Nevertheless, this high finish 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. Placing second, 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, five FMU athletic squads advanced to NCAA Division II national tournament play, and five were ranked in their respective national Top 25 polls for at least one week. Of the FMU athletic squads that calculate win-loss records (excluding the cross country and track and field teams that compete in large invitational meets), eight posted winning records (including four above .750).
The women’s basketball team finished with a 25-8 record and made its third straight Division II “Sweet Sixteen” appearance. The men’s tennis team, while equaling its single-season record for wins (18-4 record), was chosen to host an NCAA regional tournament for the first time. The Patriot volleyball team posted a 24-11 record, while the women’s softball team posted the fourth-highest win total in team history with a 35-23 mark. The baseball team rebounded from 14-28 mark in 1999 to a 23-20 record this year in what would be head coach Gerald Griffin’s final campaign before announcing his retirement.
The Patriot golf team recorded a 109-66-2 mark and narrowly missed earning its second berth in the Division II national championship tournament. The men’s cross country team registered its third consecutive top-10 finish (8th) at the Southeast Regional Meet, while the women placed 18th at the regional meet.
Prior to winning the 1999 and 1998 competitions, 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.