The Peach Belt Conference enters its second quarter-century as one of the premier leagues in NCAA Division II. Entering its 26th season, the league is home to 36 national championships and 28 national finalists.
Starting with only two championships in 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.
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.
In 2015-16 the Armstrong State University women’s tennis team won their 10th national championship, the most national championships by a single program in Division II history in any sport.
The Columbus State women’s soccer team reached the national championship game for the first time in school history. They became only the second PBC women’s soccer team to ever reach the final.
PBC member institutions hosted seven of a possible 10 NCAA regional competitions. The Montevallo women’s cross country team, Francis Marion women’s basketball team, Armstrong State and Columbus State men’s tennis team, CSU women’s tennis team, Armstrong State softball team and Lander baseball team all won their regionals to advance to the national championships.
CSU’s Nicole Corcione won the NCAA Elite 90 award for women’s soccer, one of dozens of academic awards presented to PBC student-athletes. Fourteen athletes were named CoSIDA Academic All-Americans, the most in any season in PBC history. The conference also moved into the fourth year of its own Elite 15 Awards and had record numbers of honorees on All-Academic teams and the Presidential Honor Roll.
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.
Georgia Regents 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.
Additionally, the PBC welcomed associate members for the first time ever in 2012-13 with Nova Southeastern University and the Florida Institute of Technology continuing on for the 2016-17 year.
David Brunk was named the second PBC commissioner in May of 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. William Abare, Jr., of Flagler College begins his two-year term as the president of the Peach Belt Conference in 2016-17.
The conference currently holds championships in 15 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.