J. Robert “Bob” Polk

1990 - 1999 Inductees
Year Honored:
Vanderbilt University, Evansville, Trinity College, St. Louis, Rice University


Bob Polk has the distinction of being Vanderbilt University’s first full-time basketball coach. He came to the campus at the request of Athletic Director “Red” Sanders in the fall of 1947. Luckily for Vanderbilt, Sanders chose a man who would set a standard of excellence in Commodore basketball which remains even today. Polk’s original mission was to produce a basketball program competitive with the top SEC teams. He reached this goal almost immediately. His 1948 team was 8-14, but the next season his cagers reversed those figures. The Commodores placed second in the 1950 race and in 1951 won the SEC tournament. Born in Indiana, Bob Polk played organized basketball from the fourth grade on through Evansville College, graduating in 1939. After naval duty during the war, Polk accepted the head coaching job at Vanderbilt. He suffered a heart attack in 1957, and assistant Roy Skinner carried on his program in 1958 and 1959. Polk returned for two more seasons before recurring thrombosis ended his tenure at Vanderbilt. In his thirteen coaching seasons with the Commodores, Polk’s record stands at 197-106. In 1965 against the advice of his doctors, Polk chose to return to coaching, and took the head job at Trinity College in Texas. Later he coached at St. Louis and at Rice. In the NCAA statistics, Bob Polk’s career record of 355-257 is listed with the all-time great basketball coaches. Bob Polk died in 1986, leaving a legacy of college basketball pride and success.

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