MISHAWAKA — Jody Martinez, the athletic director and long-time head women's basketball coach at Bethel College, is leaving for a new job in Florida.
Martinez, coming off his fourth year as AD and 17th as head women's basketball coach, is bound for a coaching position at Southeastern University Lakeland, Fla. The announcement was on the SEU website Wednesday, May 7.
“I see it as a great honor and blessing to become the next head women’s basketball coach at Southeastern University” said Martinez. "I look forward to serving the community and the campus of Southeastern and using the game of basketball as a tool of ministry to impact lives for the Kingdom.
"There's nothing wrong. I love Bethel College. I think great things are going to happen at Bethel. I'll always bleed blue and be a proud alum. My wife and I are just looking forward to a new challenge."
Sonya Martinez, a former Bethel basketball player and long-time assistant to her husband, will become the assistant to the AD at Southeastern. Jody and Sonya have two daughters — Hannah and Josalyn.
At Southeastern, like Bethel an NAIA and National Christian College Athletic Association member, Martinez takes over for Drew Watson who retired as women's basketball coach at the end of the 2013-14 season to concentrate on his duties as SEU athletic director.
The Fire went 20-12 overall and 11-5 in the Sun Conference last winter.
Southeastern is where former Bethel head softball coach Anna Welsh and assistant Jeff Welsh are now employed in the head softball and assistant sports information director post, respectively.
Donnie Smith, who called Bethel athletics for Regional Radio Sports Network, is the Southeastern SID.
Bethel is coming off a 2013-14 women's basketball season in which it went 12-19 overall and 7-11 in the Crossroads League. It was the first time a Martinez-led BC squad had not won at least 20 games or missed postseason play past the conference tournament.
During the Bethel Athletic Hall of Famer's days on the bench, the Lady Pilots compiled an overall record of 384-180 with numerous NAIA tournament appearances and six NCCAA national titles, the most recent in 2011.
As a BC men's basketball player, Martinez produced 2,620 points and 1,728 rebounds — both No. 1 at the time his playing career concluded. The Pilots were 110-36 during his four years.
Bethel men won two NCCAA national crowns with Martinez on the staff of head coach Mike Lightfoot.
Martinez went on to coach and teach and South Bend St. Joseph High School before coming back to Bethel as head women's basketball in 1998.