Greenville University Head Men’s Basketball Coach George Barber was among the men named Most Distinguished Men of Illinois for 2017. The award is given by the nonprofit organization Continuing Academic Training (CAT), which supports academic success for at-risk youth by offering customized educational services to help students, parents and educators break the cycle of failure in school.
In addition to coaching, Barber also teaches in the Department of Health, Physical Education and Sport Management at Greenville University.
The Most Distinguished Men of Illinois recognizes educators who contribute to the academic growth of youth, families and community organizations.
“Barber’s outstanding work has made a great difference in the lives of the students at Greenville,” says CAT, as published in the book accompanying the 2017 award ceremony.
“It’s such a privilege to work at Greenville,” Barber says. “I see Greenville as a front line university in the pursuit of educating young people—often first generation college students—and preparing them for a life of character and service.”
Guiding students toward Christ-like maturity is rewarding, but also challenging, especially when it runs counter to messages they’ve grown up with in the broader culture.
“You are always unpacking what the culture teaches [students] and rebuilding from an eternal relational perspective,” Barber says. “It’s an honor and exciting challenge to have that opportunity.”
Barber began coaching at Greenville University in 1999. He had previously served as assistant coach at Bradley University and administrative assistant at the University of Kentucky where he was a member of Rick Pitino’s staff for the 1996 national championship team.
While at Greenville University, Barber has coached players who received:
1 NCCAA Pete Maravich National Player of the Year Award
23 NCCAA All Region Awards
2 NCCAA All-American Awards
25 SLIAC All-Conference Awards
6 SLIAC All-Defensive Team Awards
6 SLIAC Team Sportsmanship Awards
Barber was named the 2016 SLIAC Coach of the year, and his Panthers were regular season SLIAC conference co-champions. In 2016 the Panthers led the nation (all divisions) in scoring. In 2015 Barber received the Lee McKinney Distinguished Service Award given by the Saint Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SLIAC).
He is the longest tenured head men’s basketball coach in Greenville University history and is the school’s all-time leader in wins as head men’s basketball coach.
Barber and his wife Lisa have been married since 1986 and have five children—Ben, Zach, Mary Ashley, Abby, and Sam.