Bob Vanatta

Bob Vanatta (1918-2016)

Teams coached: Central Methodist Eagles, Southwest Missouri State Bears, Army Cadets, Bradley Braves, Memphis State Tigers, Missouri Tigers, Delta State Statesmen
Central Methodist record^: 61-20 (.753)
Southwest Missouri State record^: 73-12 (.857)
Army record: 15-7 (.682)
Bradley record: 22-33 (.400)
Memphis State record: 109-34 (.762)
Missouri record: 42-80 (.344)
Delta State record^: 11-14 (.440)
Overall record^: 333-200 (.625)

Career Accomplishments:

  • NCAA National Championships:  0
  • NCAA Tournament Appearances:  2  (1955, 1962)
  • NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen:  1  (1955)
  • NCAA Tournament Final Four:  0
  • NIT Championships:  0  (Runner-up in 1957)
  • NIT Appearances:  3  (1957, 1960, 1961)
  • MIAA (NAIA) Regular Season Champion:  2  (1952, 1953)
  • NAIA National Championships:  2  (1952, 1953)   
  • NAIA Tournament Appearances:  2  (1952, 1953)

Coaching Career (head coach, unless noted):

1972-1973 Delta State
1962-1967 Missouri
1956-1962 Memphis State
1954-1956 Bradley
1953-1954 Army
1950-1953 Southwest Missouri State
1947-1950 Central Methodist

Bob Vanatta Facts

  • Bob Vanatta
  • Born July 7, 1918
  • Died October 22, 2016
  • Hometown: Columbia, Missouri
  • Alma Mater: Central Methodist University (BA, 1945)
  • After playing at Central Methodist in Fayette, MO, Vanatta spent three years as the head coach of the Eagles
    • Went 61-20 during his first tenure as a collegiate head coach
  • Moved on to Missouri State in 1950, then a NAIA school known as Southwest Missouri State College
    • Was 73-12 in three seasons, leading the Bears to back-to-back NAIA National Championships
  • Spent one year as the head coach at Army, followed by two seasons at Bradley
    • Took the Bradley Braves, then an NCAA Independent, to the Elite Eight in 1955
      • Also served for a short time as the athletic director at Bradley
  • Hired by Memphis State in 1956, coaching the Tigers to a 109-34 record over the next six seasons
    • Went to the postseason four times, one NCAA Tournament and three NITs (NIT Runner-up in 1957)
  • Returned to his home state in 1962, spending five seasons as the head coach at Missouri
    • Did not have much success at Mizzou, going just 42-80 including two 3-win seasons to end his tenure
  • After one year as the head coach at Division II Delta State, Vanatta began his administrative career
    • Spent three years as the athletic director at Oral Roberts
    • Hired as commissioner of the Ohio Valley Conference in 1976, serving in that capacity for three years
    • Served as commissioner of the Trans America Athletic Conference (now the A-Sun) from 1979-83
    • Became the athletic director at Louisiana Tech in 1983, leading that department for three years
  • Hired in 1986 to be the commissioner of the D-II Sunshine State Conference, working for that organization for eight years
  • Final role was a stint as the athletic director at Florida Atlantic, from 1997 to his retirement in 1999
  • Inducted into the Missouri State Athletics Hall of Fame (c/o 1953) and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame (c/o 1989)
  • Passed away in 2016 in Jupiter, FL at the age of 98

Bob Vanatta Coaching Tree

  • Stan Albeck (Bradley, Chicago Bulls, New Jersey Nets, San Antonio Spurs, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver, Northern Michigan, Adrian)
  • Dean Ehlers (James Madison, Memphis State)
  • Gary Garner (Dakota State, Southeast Missouri State, Fort Hays State, Drake, Missouri Southern)
  • Chuck Orsborn (Bradley)
  • Bill Thomas (Southwest Missouri State)
  • Wayne Yates (Northwestern State, Memphis State)


^ overall record includes head coaching positions at the NCAA Division I, Division II and NAIA levels; (then-Southwest) Missouri State was a NAIA program while Vanatta was coaching there