Bob Polk

Bob Polk (1915-1986)

Teams coached: Vanderbilt Commodores, Trinity Tigers, Saint Louis Billikens, Rice Owls
Vanderbilt record: 197-106 (.650)
Trinity record^: 70-28 (.714)
Saint Louis record: 72-60 (.545)
Rice record: 17-63 (.213)
Overall record^: 356-257 (.581)

Career Accomplishments:


Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1974-1977 Rice
1969-1974 Saint Louis
1965-1969 Trinity (TX)
1959-1961 Vanderbilt
1947-1958 Vanderbilt
1943-1947 Georgia Tech (asst)

Bob Polk Facts

  • James Robert Polk
  • Born February 28, 1915
  • Died March 18, 1986
  • Hometown: Tell City, Indiana
  • Alma Mater: University of Evansville (BA, 1939)
  • Grew up in Tell City, IN and played for head coach Bill Slyker at the nearby University of Evansville
  • Returned to alma mater Tell City HS (IN) after graduating, working as an assistant basketball coach for four years
  • Joined the US Navy in 1943 and was sent to teach physical education at Georgia Tech, where – in addition to his Naval duties – he also assisted head men’s basketball coach Dwight Keith
    • Stayed at GT after the War, spending a total of three years under Keith and a fourth under Roy McArthur
  • Hired in 1947 to be the head coach at Vanderbilt, where he would spend the next 14 years of his career
    • Was 197-106 in 13 total seasons as Commodore head coach; claimed the 1951 SEC Tournament crown
    • Missed the 1958-59 season due to his health (heart); Vandy was led by his assistant and eventual successor Roy Skinner
    • Finished three straight seasons in the AP Top 20 (1954-57) and got Vandy as high as #3 in the nation in 1956
    • Heart attack forced Polk to step away from his duties in 1961, leaving as the winningest coach in program history (he is now third on that list, behind Skinner and Kevin Stallings)
  • Recovered from his heart attack and became the head coach and athletic director at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX
    • Went 70-28 in four years with the Southland program, a College Division (or D-II) league for three of those years
    • Reached the D-II NCAA Final Four in 1968 and went to the D-I NCAA Tournament in 1969 (their first year eligible)
  • Left Trinity for the head coaching position at Saint Louis in 1969, where he won 72 games in five seasons
    • Started strong, sharing the Missouri Valley title and earning conference COY honors in 1971
    • Stepped down in 1974 after a 9-16 season, having never reached the postseason with the Billikens
  • Final coaching role was a three-year stint at Rice, during which Polk was never able to reclaim any of his past success
    • During the 1974-75 season, Polk served as the President of the NABC
  • Retired from coaching in 1977 and took a position as assistant athletic director at Alabama-Birmingham (UAB)
  • Passed away from heart disease in 1986 at the age of 70; posthumously inducted into the Tennessee Sports HOF in 1990

Bob Polk Coaching Tree


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at both the NCAA Division I and Division II levels