JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Longtime Jacksonville State baseball coach Rudy Abbott, has passed away. He was 81.

The school said Abbott died on Wednesday morning after being hospitalized last week with COVID 19-related pneumonia, Family members confirmed his passing.

He led the Gamecocks to back to back NCAA Division II national championships in 1990 and 1991 during his 32-year reign that ended in 2001. His teams won eight Gulf South Conference tournament championships.

Abbott is a member of the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, the JSU Athletics Hall of Fame, the Gulf South Conference Hall of Fame and the Calhoun County Sports Hall of Fame.

Abbott continued to serve as a volunteer youth coach after his retirement and was elected to the Calhoun County Commission.

Abbott’s 1979 team won its first 29 games, an NCAA record at the time.

“Coach Abbott was larger than life to those of us who played for him,” said Todd Jones, a first-round Major League Baseball draft pick in 1989. “He spent time with us and he gave us confidence. He cared for us in school when we didn’t care about our classes.

“He let us be ourselves within being Gamecocks.”