One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for March 7, 2015.
My goal in 2015 is to learn or get re-acquainted with 365 people and doing a daily post on the “the friend of a friend” is helping me get closer to my goal.
Today at UNC Pembroke the Peach Belt Conference Basketball Tournament is being played and I thought about the first commissioner of the league Marvin Vanover. Prior to being the PBC Commissioner Marvin worked at Augusta State University. That Georgia university is home to a good friend of mine.
I have a few friends when I see them I know there is a strong chance a memorable experience might be just around the corner. Clint Bryant is a friend of mine that brings me memorable experiences or laughter. Clint is currently the Director of Athletics at Georgia Regents University (formerly Augusta State) in Augusta, Georgia. Clint has been there since 1988 and he replaced Marvin Vanover.
I first met Clint in 1980 while he was an assistant basketball coach at Clemson and I was an assistant coach at Western Carolina University. At Western when I asked a high school recruit in North or South Carolina who else is showing interest in you Clemson was always an answer. Clint Bryant was an organized and hard-working recruiter. If some young man could play basketball in the Carolinas Clint Bryant knew about him. He epitomized my favorite acronym about being a college coach. RDOP –Recruit Daily or Perish.
Clint grew up in a Maryland near Washington, D.C. In high school, he was a standout basketball player and one of the team’s top students. He had never heard of Belmont Abbey College (NC) until their basketball coach Bob Hussey, gave Bryant an opportunity that not many young, inner-city kids received a scholarship.
Bryant played forward for the Belmont Abbey basketball team from 1973 to 1977 and was one of the Crusaders’ leading rebounders in all four seasons. In addition to his athletics ability, Bryant also excelled in the classroom. He received the Marty Thomas Scholar-Athlete Award his senior year, which is given annually to a Belmont Abbey student-athlete who has demonstrated both academic and athletics success.
After graduating from Belmont Abbey with a degree in business administration in 1977, Bryant went on to earn a master’s degree in personnel services from Clemson University. He then began working as an assistant basketball coach at Clemson under head coach Bill Foster before following Foster to Miami (Fla.). Seven years later, Bryant was promoted to associate head coach, which is when Georgia Regents University came calling. He became both the school’s director of athletics and head men’s basketball coach in 1988.
Clint has provided me some memorable stories. He is a man who can best be described as an advocate. He has been an advocate for Division II Athletics, an advocate for minorities, college athletic reform, but most important he has always been an advocate for the students he serves. In addition to that he is a great person to call a friend.
Clint is also a person with great influence in the college athletic world. He is unlike many who have great influence in that Clint Bryant expects no special treatment he just wants to be treated fair. He has always been fair to me. Clint has a beautiful wife Patricia and two grown daughters that he is extremely proud of.
I know that without Clint’s support I would not have been afforded an opportunity to serve on NCAA committees. I know his voice of support enabled me to be nominated and selected to serve on the NCAA Division II Management Council. I cannot thank him enough for that. Serving on NCAA Committees exposed me to some very talented leaders and students including Clint Bryant. I am fortunate to call Clint and others I met friends today.
It was on those NCAA Committees that I often laughed beyond tears because of Clint. One of my first meetings in Indianapolis was when the Management Council was hearing a report from the new NCAA President Mark Emmert. In that meeting Clint had a memorable line.
President Emmert came to the Division II Management Council and for 15 minutes geared his remarks about current Division I issues which at the time were scandalous. After he finishes he ask our committee if there are any questions and Clint ask and I quote “President Emmert talk to us about Division II we don’t give a rat’s ass about Division I quite frankly they embarrass us”.
After an awkward moment of silence President Emmert vowed to come back and focus on our Division II issues. To his credit future talks were centered on Division II. That interaction was an example of Clint’s influence and advocacy.
Clint also took to task a NCAA administrator for a decision to allow GoDaddy to be the title name of a college football bowl game. He was livid that the NCAA could bill itself as an organization that was supportive of women and would still allow an organization like GoDaddy to run an ad with a woman having a live beaver under her dress. That story is legendary to members past and present of the Division II Management Council.
There is also Clint’s colorful use of the English language and his ability to use the Mother F bomb as a noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. When Clint gets a glass of red wine in him and the conversations turn to basketball you know a Mother F bomb is just around the corner.
When it comes to red wine he is also quite the collector. He has a large collection in his home and when you dine with Clint he is going to put you on to a good tasting wine.
One of Clint’s friends is Marvin Vanover who is a character in his own right.
The Friend-CLINT BRYANT-first photo Clint and his family. Second photo is of Clint and Dan Kenney at NCAA Committee Meeting in 2013.
The Friend of the Friend-MARVIN VANOVER
Marvin Vanover the arm grabber and red wine spills
Marvin Vanover is a legend in Augusta, GA. He is cherished for his four decades of work in Augusta. He has a road, which leads to Georgia Regents’s basketball gymnasium, named after him (Vanover Drive). He has a basketball tournament named after him Peach Belt renamed the event the “Marvin Vanover Peach Belt Conference Basketball Tournament when he retired. Vanover also has had his own day (Marvin Vanover Day) twice in Augusta.
Marvin became interim commissioner of the Peach Belt Conference, based in Augusta, in 1990. The new conference had seven charter members and two championship sports. The conference later expanded to 12 schools and 12 sports.
Marvin Vanover became the full-time commissioner in 1991. Today the Peach Belt Conference has 14 members including Georgia Regents and UNC Pembroke.
There is a great article on Marvin at the link below:
Marvin like his friend Clint Bryant likes to drink red wine. Marvin also loves to grab your arm when he talks to you. It is quite an athletic feat to see him take his left hand grab your right arm all the while balancing a Cabernet or Merlot in his right hand. The results are some times disastrous. I have personally seen Marvin spill red wine on himself, college presidents, waitress, and too many athletic directors to mention.
This weekend in honor of Clint and his friend Marvin Vanover I am going to toast both of them with a glass of red wine.
The two of them have been great advocates for some things I truly cherish friends, fairness, basketball, and college athletics.