The Peach Belt Conference enters its second quarter-century as one of the premier leagues in NCAA Division II. Entering its 29th season, the league is home to 35 national championships and 28 national finalists.
Starting with only two championships in 1990-1991, men’s and women’s basketball, the conference has expanded to 15 championship sports with the addition of men’s and women’s track and field in the spring of 2013.
The conference traces its roots back to November of 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 with men's and women's basketball. The league became a full NCAA Division II conference in 1991-92 with 11 championship sports.
The Peach Belt was less than a year old before capturing a national championship. 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 Armstrong State won 10 women's tennis national titles, including five in a six-year span from 2008-13.
The Peach Belt has made a commitment to being a leader in NCAA Division II. The league was the first in any division to hold an Esports Championship in 2018 with League of Legends. The league is also the first to partner with Battlefields2Ballfields to encourage veterans to become officials. The league was the first to have an officials appreciation week in 2018-19 which was adoped by the D2CCA and will become a national program in 2019-20.
The seven charter members of the conference were Armstrong State University, Columbus State University, Francis Marion University, Georgia College, Lander University, USC Aiken and USC Upstate. The name Peach Belt Athletic Conference was adopted in January of 1990 and modified to Peach Belt Conference in May of 2000. Marvin Vanover served as the league's first commissioner, retiring in 2007.
Augusta 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 the University of North Georgia in 2005 and Georgia Southwestern State University in 2006. In 2009-10, the Peach Belt added Montevallo and Flagler. Young Harris became the league's 14th member in 2012-13 and in 2014 completed the transition to full NCAA Division II status.
The league currently sits at 12 members as Montevallo departed in 2016 while Armstrong State was merged with another institution and ceased operation that same year.
The PBC has added associate members. Nova Southeastern University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University participate in outdoor track & field while Albany State joined for women's soccer and Claflin for baseball. The PBC also has associate members Alma College, Coker University, Hawaii-Pacific University and the University of Montevallo as associate members in Esports.
David Brunk was named the second PBC commissioner in May of 2007. His leadership has transformed the PBC over the past 12 years with dozens of new programs, awards, sports and championships under the PBC banner.
Dr. Sandra Jordan of the University of South Carolina Aiken began her two-year term as the chair of the PBC Board of Directors in July 2019. Dr. Richard Cosentino of Lander University will serve as vice-chair and Dr. Richard Markwood of Columbus State University as the second vice-chair.
The conference currently holds championships in 15 NCAA Division II sports, seven for men and eight 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, men’s and women’s golf and men's and women’s track and field.
The league also has conference championships for League of Legends as well as a Spirit Competition that awards titles for cheerleading, dance team and pep band.