Football might be the SEC’s signature sport, but the conference excels across the board. From basketball to track, some of the all-time winningest coaches reside in the conference.
While winning is important, many SEC coaches have played integral roles in the development of their respective sports. Several of the coaches are historical, while others still reside at their school today.
Here is a look at the greatest non-football coaches in SEC history by sport.
Baseball: Skip Bertman, LSU
Bertman had an admirable start to his career at the University of Miami, working as an associate head coach under Ron Fraser, but completely transformed the LSU program after arriving in 1984. In 18 seasons, the Tigers reached the College World Series 11 times and won 5 national championships. His teams went 870-330-3 during his tenure.
For his accomplishments, Bertman is considered one of the great coaches in LSU history, regardless of sport. He retired from coaching in 2001 but immediately transitioned to a role as LSU’s athletic director. Bertman was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame 5 years after his retirement. Skip Bertman Field is named after the legendary coach.
Men’s basketball: Adolph Rupp, Kentucky
When it comes to the legendary Kentucky basketball program, one name stands above all others: Rupp. The longtime Kentucky coach was born 10 years after the invention of the game, but the “Baron of the Bluegrass” quickly helped transform the game.
Rupp was one of the first to innovate with zone defenses and quickly found national success with the Wildcats. After joining the program in 1930, Rupp won the SEC 3 years later. He continued to accumulate wins and conference championships (27 regular season, 13 tournament) before capturing his first national championship in 1948.
When he was forced into retirement at age 70, Rupp had won 4 national championships and qualified for 6 Final Fours in 41 seasons. Rupp ranks No. 6 all time among Division I teams with 876 career victories and third in winning percentage.
Women’s basketball: Pat Summitt, Tennessee
Just crediting Summitt for her 1,098 wins, 8 national championships, 16 SEC championships and 7 national coach of the year awards would be completely missing the point. Without question, she is the greatest coach in women’s basketball history and one of the greatest tacticians in sports. However, she meant so much more to women’s athletics.
Summitt took over the Lady Volunteers right after the passage of Title IX, when women’s college athletics was in its infancy. During her time there, she refused to be constrained and quickly turned Tennessee into a national power.
Her tenure helped increase interest in women’s sports exponentially. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom before passing away at 64 on June 28.
Equestrian: Meghan Boenig, Georgia
Equestrian is one of the fastest-growing sports in the NCAA, and Georgia has one of the best coaches. Since starting the Bulldogs program in 2001, Boenig has led Georgia to 6 national championships in 15 years.
Boenig also has been an influential figure in the SEC’s adoption of equestrian as an official varsity sport, which happened in 2013. As the sport continues to grow, Boenig will continue to be an influential figure.
Golf: Chris Haack, Georgia
Since taking over as golf coach in 1996, Haack has made Georgia a major national player. The Bulldogs have won a pair of national championships and 8 SEC championships during his 20-year tenure. Additionally, Georgia was the national runner-up in 2007 and 2011.
Perhaps most notably, Haack coached PGA superstar Bubba Watson while he was at Georgia. In 2012, Watson became the first of Haack’s protégés to win a major event, taking the Masters. The Bulldogs won the SEC during the first of Watson’s 2 seasons in Athens, Ga.
Gymnastics: Suzanne Yoculan, Georgia
Before her retirement in 2009, Yoculan set the standard for SEC women’s gymnastics. During her 26-year career at Georgia, the Bulldogs won 16 SEC titles and 10 national championships. Her career record of 836-117-7 is among the best of all time.
Perhaps just as impressive, Yoculan increased the profile of the Georgia gymnastics team exponentially. Throughout her tenure, attendance grew from 200 to just under 10,000 per meet at home. Georgia has the largest gymnastics booster club in the nation, with more than 800 members.
Soccer: Becky Burleigh, Florida
Burleigh originated the women’s soccer program in 1995. Three years later, she captured the heart of Gator Nation by winning the program’s first national championship. Winning a national championship is hard enough without having to do it from the ground up.
Burleigh has dominated the SEC, winning 14 league championships in 20 seasons. Additionally, her 436-117-36 (77.1 percent) record gives her the fourth-best winning percentage among active NCAA Division I coaches.
Softball: Patrick Murphy, Alabama
Despite being an active coach, Murphy has already been enshrined in the NFCA Hall of Fame for three years. After seeing how he has built the Alabama softball program, it’s easy to see why. Murphy took over in the program’s third season and has not missed the NCAA tournament.
Murphy has taken the Crimson Tide to 10 Women’s College World Series and won the 2012 national championship, the first softball championship for an SEC school. He has posted an 842-226 record at the school. Between Murphy and Florida coach Tim Walton, the SEC is poised to continue being a force in the national softball scene.
Swimming: David Marsh, Auburn
Florida dominated SEC swimming and diving for generations, but Marsh changed the game at Auburn. While coaching at his alma mater, Marsh led the Tigers to a combined 12 men’s and women’s team national championships between 1990 and 2007. His teams were national runners-up in 5 additional seasons.
Marsh’s teams took control over the SEC. His men’s teams won 11 consecutive SEC championships to close his career. The women won 4 SEC titles during the same stretch. Additionally, his athletes won 277 individual SEC titles and 89 NCAA titles.
Tennis: Dan Magill, Georgia
Current coach Manuel Diaz is on track to surpass Magill’s accomplishments on the court, but few personalities have contributed as much to an athletic program as Magill did at Georgia. He started as a bat boy at the school in the 1930s but eventually rose to become one of the greatest college tennis coaches.
During a 34-year career, Magill posted a 706-183 record, which makes him the winningest coach in Division I history. Magill led the Bulldogs to 13 SEC Outdoor championships, 8 indoor championships and a pair of national championships. His greatest team played in 1985, when Georgia had the No. 1 team, No. 1 singles player and No. 1 doubles partnership.
Besides his work on the court, Magill was a storied sports information official. The press box at Sanford Stadium is named after him. The Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame is located at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex in Athens, Ga.
Track: John McDonnell, Arkansas
Between track and cross country, McDonnell is the most successful collegiate coach. His teams won a combined 40 national championships (19 indoor track, 10 outdoor track, 11 cross country), more than any coach.
McDonnell, an Irish immigrant, built the Razorbacks into one of the great athletic programs in collegiate history. Arkansas captured 46 SEC championships and 38 Southwest Conference championships during his tenure. For his efforts, he was named national coach of the year 30 times. Twenty-three of his athletes went on to become Olympians. McDonnell is a member of the U.S. Track Coaches Hall of Fame.
Volleyball: Mary Wise, Florida
Wise has had a stranglehold on the SEC since her hiring in 1991. In 25 seasons in Gainesville, Fla., Wise has led the Gators to 21 conference championships. For her efforts, she has earned SEC Coach of the Year honors 14 times.
She has led the Gators to 7 NCAA Final Four appearances, becoming the first female coach to lead her team to the Final Four multiple times. Additionally, she was the first woman to coach her volleyball team in the national championship match. She was the first woman to reach 800 career wins.
- Jack Bauerle, Georgia swimming
- Manuel Diaz, Georgia tennis
- Pat Henry, LSU/Texas A&M track and field
- Sarah Patterson, Alabama gymnastics
- Ron Polk, Mississippi State baseball
- Jay Seawell, Alabama golf
- Norm Stewart, Missouri basketball
- Tim Walton, Florida softball