Vanderbilt University Profile

Academic Giant among Basketball Giants

As the only ECS university in the SEC, Vanderbilt University is not only searching for basketball talent to compete against powerhouse programs such as Tennessee, Florida, and Texas A&M, but doing so within Ivy League-like academic standards.

Yet even given the academic standards constraints, for Vandy coach Melanie Balcomb the stats tell the story of coaching success. Vandy all time winningest coach, with 11 trips to the NCAA tournament. A 10-1 record in the first round of the NCAA tournament and four Sweet 16 appearances. Three SEC Championships and a 70% winning record. But the stats don't tell the whole story.

Prior to becoming the Vandy head coach, Coach Balcomb spent seven seasons at Xavier University, compiling a 136-78 record during her tenure. Before Xavier, Coach Balcomb took her first head coaching position at Ashland University following three years as an assistant at Providence College.

A native of Cranbury, NJ, Coach Balcomb played her college basketball at another ECS school, The College of New Jersey (then known as Trenton State College), where she set school records for career assists and steals, and she scored over 1,000 points in her collegiate basketball career. Coach Balcomb's basketball education began at an early age. Her father, Alan, was a varsity boy's coach for 30 years at South Brunswick (NJ) High School, and then served as an assistant for four years at Princeton University.

Coach Balcomb stresses the importance of community service to her teams. Examples include visiting with young patients at the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital and volunteering to help clean up flood-damaged areas after the devastating Nashville flood in 2010. Coach Balcomb herself has been active in outreach to the Nashville area, participating in numerous fundraising events including Coaches vs. Cancer, the Race for the Cure, Mercy Ministries, Vanderbilt Children's Hospital and the Girl Scouts of America.

About Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt University is a private research university located in Nashville, Tennessee. Named in honor of shipping and rail magnate "Commodore" Cornelius Vanderbilt, who in 1873 provided the school its initial $1 million endowment. The Commodore hoped that his gift and the greater work of the university would help to heal the sectional wounds inflicted by the Civil War by contributing “to strengthening the ties which should exist between all sections of our common country.” In keeping with the spirit of that initial goal, fully 60% of Vanderbilt’s current students hail from outside the Southeast.

Vanderbilt participates in the NCAA's Division I and the Southeastern Conference (SEC), a powerhouse in women's DI basketball. BennettRank.com ranks the SEC as the third most competitive women’s basketball conference in the country. Vanderbilt consistently ranks in the top 20 universities in the U.S. It has an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 6,800 and total enrollment of around 12,000. Despite its urban surroundings, the campus itself is a national arboretum sitting on 333 acres about 1.5 miles from downtown Nashville.

Vanderbilt is comprised of 10 schools and colleges covering disciplines from the humanities to music to engineering. Among its graduate programs are the top-ranked Peabody College of Education and Human Development, which also offers undergraduate programs, and the highly ranked Owen Graduate School of Management, School of Engineering, Law School, School of Medicine and School of Nursing. Vanderbilt is also well known for its undergraduate Blair School of Music, and the Vanderbilt University Medical Center is ranked one of the best in the nation.