MOBILE, Ala. – Coach Mike Jacobs, University of Mobile’s beloved athletic director and head baseball coach, passed away suddenly Dec. 3 after suffering a heart attack at the baseball field on campus that bears his name.
As word spread, the reaction from the University of Mobile family and the community reflected the legacy of integrity and faith that Coach Jacobs left.
“I have never met a man with more class and dignity on and off a ball field,” said UM President Lonnie Burnett, who first met Jacobs in 1980 when they were both coaching high school baseball. “Not only was he a legendary coach, but he was a spiritual mentor to hundreds of players over the decades of his career.
“He was a kind and thoughtful person who went to great lengths to make others successful. Because of Mike’s faith in Christ – a faith he freely shared – I am confident he is in the presence of his Savior. Moreover, because of Mike’s life and testimony, many young men will someday be reunited with him in eternity,” Burnett said.
Coach Jacobs was named athletic director July 1, leading one of the largest athletic programs in the NAIA with 18 varsity sports and about 425 student-athletes. He founded the university’s baseball program in 1990 and coached all 30 seasons since the Rams’ program was established.
In 2011, the baseball field was named Mike Jacobs Field in his honor, after he compiled 700 wins. Overall, he earned 993 wins and was 10th among active coaches in career wins in the NAIA. He led the Rams to three streaks of 40 or more total wins, and reached the 30-win plateau 17 times. He guided the Rams to seven conference championships and a berth in the 2001 NAIA World Series.
Before his career at the University of Mobile, he coached six years at UMS-Wright Preparatory School, including two as an assistant coach and four as the head coach. As a college player, Jacobs had an outstanding career as a four-year letterman at University of South Alabama and was the Jaguars’ leading hitter in 1976.
Coach Jacobs was inducted into the Alabama Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2018.
But coaching baseball was only part of Coach Jacobs’ life’s work.
“I’ve always felt like this was a ministry for me, that God brought me here not only to coach baseball, but to mentor young athletes and prepare them for what life is going to bring them when they leave here. I try to be an example of what I feel God wants these students to see,” Coach Jacobs said in an interview for the university.
That impact is reflected in the news coverage of his death and comments spreading across social media. One of those honoring Coach Jacobs was UM Assistant Professor of Accounting Rusty Roberts, who serves as chaplain to the UM baseball team.
“Mike Jacobs was a man who loved Jesus intensely and pointed everyone he came in contact with to Him…He loved baseball. It was his job and his life. He loved every guy who came through his program. He showed those guys what it meant to be a godly man who served Jesus, his family and others,” wrote Roberts. “He loved his wife, Joy, and his two sons and their families, and every time you talked with him, he would bring them up in conversation.
“But tonight I don’t mourn as one who has no hope,” Roberts continued. “I mourn knowing that Mike has seen Jesus face-to-face and has heard, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’ Mike, you finished well!”
Coach Jacobs is survived by his wife, Joy; their two sons, Josh and Jeff, and eight grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held Saturday, Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. at Mike Jacobs Field on the University of Mobile campus. The family requests guests bring a lawn chair for the outdoor service and wear casual, game-day attire. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that memorials be made to the University of Mobile Baseball Program, 5735 College Parkway, Mobile, Alabama 36613 or umobile.edu/givenow and designate baseball.
About the University of Mobile
The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered liberal arts and sciences institution with a vision of higher education for a higher purpose, founded to honor God by equipping students for their future professions through rigorous academic preparation and spiritual transformation. Core values are: Christ-Centered, Academically-Focused, Student-Devoted and Distinctively-Driven. The university offers on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.
For more information about the University of Mobile, visit the website at www.umobile.edu or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.