Cowboys secure Hill, baseball skipper gets three-year contract extension

Jim Gazzolo, Special to the American Press

After guiding McNeese State’s baseball program through the toughest of seasons, Justin Hill was rewarded with a contract extension Thursday.

Hill, who had one year remaining on his old deal, signed on for three more years plus a fourth year rollover. Financial details were not released.

“We hare happy to have coach Hill with us moving forward,” said McNeese Athletic Director Heath Schroyer. “We have had numerous conversations since the end of the season and I’m extremely happy we got this finalized.

“He did a tremendous job in very tough times last season.”

Hill led the Cowboys to a 32-30 record, closing fast and capturing the program’s second straight Southland Conference tournament championship. McNeese also won back in 2019. There was not postseason in 2020.

Over his eight seasons with the Cowboys Hill has posted a 232-192 record. He is just 12 wins shy of the McNeese career mark of 244 set by the late Tony Robichaux.

His teams have won 30 or more games in six of his eight seasons, with 2020 being one of those. That year was cut short by COVID.

“I love where I’m at,” said Hill. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue to coach at McNeese.

“Lake Charles and Southwest Louisiana is home to me and my family. We have deep roots in the community with great friends and incredible relationships. This has always been about much more than baseball. This has and continues to be an opportunity to make a difference.

“Thank you to everyone who has believed in me, my family, our kids and program. I am especially grateful to my wife, Melissa – none of this would be possible without her.”

‘I love where I’m at. I’m thankful for the opportunity to continue to coach at McNeese.’

Last year Hill’s team had to deal with little if any real fall workouts, losing their clubhouse to hurricane Laura and a damaged stadium and field.

Hill himself missed 10 days when he was diagnosed with COVID-19 early in the season. Still, the Cowboys hung together and made it back to the NCAA tournament for the second straight season. That marked the first time in program history that McNeese has earned back-to-back regional berths.

“It was a tough season but you have to give credit to the kids who never lost focus, they just kept coming out and playing no matter the situation,” said Hill. “I believe the foundation of our program is better than the physical foundation of our facilities right now.

“It is easier to build a building than it is to build up people.”

Hill joins softball coach James Landreneau as spring skippers who received new deals after winning campaigns. Landreneau was also given a three-year extension with an option for a fourth back in May.

Hill and Landreneau joined with several Mc-Neese athletes last summer to help in a major cleanup of homes in the area that were damaged by hurricanes.

“It was just something to give back to the community that has done a lot for us,” said Hill.

Now he will get a chance to do more with McNeese after getting the extension.

“I think it is important for both the school and a coach to have stability and part of that is retaining quality coaches,” said Schroyer. “I am happy that we are able to do that with coach Hill.”””

Head coach Justin Hill addresses the McNeese State baseball team at Texas Christian’s Lupton Baseball Stadium & Williams-Reilly Field in Fort Worth, Texas. The Cowboys, the Southland Conference Tournament champions, are playing in their second consecutive NCAA Tournament, a program first.

Leighton Chambers