News Item

Lander’s Van Taylor Leaves Sidelines for New Role as Development Director

December 08, 2014
Van Taylor Director of Development 

Van Taylor

Longtime Lander men’s soccer coach Van Taylor has announced that, after 30 years on the Bearcat sidelines, he is stepping down from his position immediately to assume the role of Lander’s new Director of Development.

“When you think of Lander Soccer, you think of Van Taylor,” said Jeff May, Lander Vice President/Director of Athletics. “We have been blessed to have Coach Taylor in charge of our men’s soccer program for the past 30 years. His accomplishments and championships are numerous. He has set the bar high for men’s soccer.

“Coach Taylor’s drive and determination,” added May, “is second to none. I know that he will take that same drive and determination to his new duties within University Advancement. We will miss him, but we wish him well with this career change.”

Ralph Patterson, Lander’s Vice President of University Advancement, said Taylor’s experience and skill set are perfect for his new position, which will focus on qualifying, engaging, cultivating, and stewarding current and prospective donors, as well as providing leadership in procuring major gifts and planned gifts.

“I am absolutely thrilled that Van Taylor is joining our University Advancement team as the Director of Development,” said Patterson, adding that Taylor will fill a critical role in the university’s preparations for a comprehensive campaign. “Everything he has done successfully as a coach, from the identification and recruitment of student athletes, which includes the building of relationships, to the organizational management and leadership of running a championship-caliber program, are all crossover skills that pertain to helping Lander University as one of our lead fundraisers. Our team just got better.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Lander President Daniel Ball, who said he was extremely pleased with the decision. “Van Taylor has proven his loyalty and allegiance to Lander, with his unwavering hard work as a coach, as a teacher and as a recruiter for 30 years. His worldwide network of successful former students and contacts makes him ideal for the position of Director of Development.”

Taylor is appreciative of his three decades in Lander Athletics and looks forward to this new challenge.

“It has been a privilege to work with Lander student-athletes over the last 30 years as the head men’s soccer coach, and I will always cherish the time I shared with them on and off the soccer field,” said Taylor.

“I also want to thank Jeff May and the entire athletic staff for their support and encouragement over the years. I now look forward to the opportunity to serve Lander in a different capacity, as Director of Development. It is my hope the relationships I have developed as a coach and as a member of the Lander community will continue to grow as I serve in my new role with the university.”

The Lander Board of Trustees honored Taylor for his 30 years of successful coaching on Sept. 22, when it named the Van Taylor Soccer Stadium as part of the Jeff May Complex. He ends his career with an overall record of 390-163-34 (a .693 winning percentage).

Taylor led Lander to nine NCAA Tournament appearances, two Southeast Region championships, seven Peach Belt Conference regular-season titles, four PBC Tournament titles, one NAIA Final Four and four NAIA District 6 championships.

Taylor joined the Lander Athletics family in the spring of 1985, succeeding Bill Wynne, who headed the program for three years. A 1975 physical education graduate of Erskine College, where he was an All-American soccer stand-out and assistant coach, Taylor played 10 years of professional soccer in the North American Soccer League (NASL) and Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). He was an NASL first-round-draft choice with the New York Cosmos in 1975, and runner-up for the NASL Rookie of the Year award in 1976. He was elected to Erskine's Hall of Fame in 1982.

Beginning with his first season at Lander, Taylor has worked to promote and advance the game of soccer on both the collegiate and youth levels. His achievements on the field earned him three Coach of the Year honors in both the Peach Belt Conference and NAIA District 6, and he was named Regional Coach of the Year four times, including in 2013.

Taylor earned his master's in education from Lander in 1990 and received certification in administration and supervision from Clemson University in 2003. Since 1980, he has managed Van Taylor & Associates, providing public speaking for businesses, church and civic groups, and high schools and colleges. He has been instrumental in contract development, coordination and marketing for numerous soccer camps and clinics at Lander, in Greenwood and beyond.

Taylor and his wife, Dr. Beth Taylor, Greenwood District 50's Director of Secondary Education, are active in the local community and with their church, Westminster Presbyterian Church, in Greenwood. Taylor has been involved with Adopt-a-Highway, Special Olympics, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, prison ministries, and the local homeless shelter and food bank.

“We now turn our attention to finding a head coach,” added May. “Our focus will be on finding a head coach with a successful track record. We will take our time, however, we hope to have someone in place by Spring 2015.”