Jeff Willis named Skip Bertman Coach of the Year by College Baseball Foundation

July 10th, 2024

The College Baseball Foundation has named Jeff Willis, who led LSU-Eunice to the NJCAA Division II National Championship in June, as this year’s Skip Bertman Coach of the Year.

Willis's 2024 team finished with an impressive 56-8 record, securing their eighth national championship, the most in NJCAA Division II history and the second most in NCAA history. This marks the Bengals' 11th World Series appearance.

“Jeff had another outstanding season,” said Mike Gustafson, chair of the Skip Bertman Award. “But in addition to the outstanding team he put on the field again, the character and behavior of his kids off the field was also stellar.”

The award is named after legendary Louisiana State head coach and National College Baseball Hall of Famer Skip Bertman, who won five College World Series titles during his 17-year tenure at LSU.

“My father cheered for all the coaches who led a record-setting postseason this year at all levels of collegiate baseball in Louisiana,” said Lori J. Bertman, the newest College Baseball Foundation Board Trustee and owner of Bertman & Associates, a consultancy that guides sports and other philanthropy. “Coach Willis shines because of his dedication to the fundamentals that Skip Bertman holds dear: fans always come first and victories are won as a team on and off the field. The junior college system is an integral part of the college baseball continuum, enabling players to receive a quality education while sharpening their baseball skills to be ready for a four-year college and beyond. I am extraordinarily grateful to help carry on my father’s legacy through the Skip Bertman Coach of the Year award.”

This is Willis' second time receiving the Bertman Award, making him the first coach to win it twice, with his first award coming in 2018, demonstrating his longevity as a champion, not unlike Coach Bertman.

Willis was selected by a national committee of active and retired coaches from all levels of college baseball. The Bertman Award recognizes coaches at every level of college baseball. [Click here for a list of past winners.]

A native of Dumas, Texas, Willis played at UALR and began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Texas A&M-Kingsville from 2000-02.

The Skip Bertman Award rounds out a year of accolades for Willis. He was also named the NJCAA Division II National Coach of the Year by the American Baseball Coaches Association and ATEC.

Willis will be honored at the College Baseball Night of Champions on Feb. 13, 2025, in Overland Park, Kan., the new home of the Hall of Fame as well locally during next season.

Other winners of the 2024 College Baseball Foundation awards include Griff O'Ferrall, Virginia (Brooks Wallace Award); Hagen Smith, Arkansas (National Pitcher of the Year); and Jac Caglianone, Florida (John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year). The 2024 College Baseball Hall of Fame inductees will also be honored at the Night of Champions.