Joplin, Mo. — Missouri Southern head coach Chris Willis has announced his resignation in order to take the head coaching position at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. He returns to Davidson after previously serving as an assistant coach with the school from 95-97.
Willis’ last day at Southern will be March 4 and assistant coach Ryan Meek will serve as the interim head coach for the time being.
“It is with sadness that I’m announcing my resignation as the head coach of the Missouri Southern volleyball program,” Willis said. “Leaving a place where my family and I have made so many good friends and created so many great memories is very difficult.
“I’d like to thank Sallie Beard for welcoming me to Missouri Southern and Jared Bruggeman for continuing the program’s vision and excellence. The entire Missouri Southern athletic department is a special group of people who are much more than co-workers. They have become extended family to us.”
Willis coached for seven seasons at Southern, compiling a 108-127 overall mark and helping the Lions to an appearance in the 2006 NCAA South Central Regional Tournament. He is third amongst coaches at Southern in career wins at the school.
He has coached 18 All-MIAA performers, four All-Region selections and one All-American during his stint at Southern. His teams have also demonstrated outstanding success in the classroom, having one of the highest team GPA’s in the athletic department and earning the Athletic Department’s Highest Team GPA Award this past semester. His teams have had countless numbers of athletes named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll and Academic All-MIAA teams, while the 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010 squads earned the AVCA’s Team Academic Award.
His teams the past two seasons have consistently been ranked in the regional polls and he led his team in 2006 to a 23-12 record, a national ranking, a trip in the MIAA postseason tournament, and a spot in the NCAA Division II South Central Regional. He had three All-MIAA performers and one All-Region that season.
Southern Director of Athletics Jared Bruggeman said a national search for Willis’ replacement will begin immediately.
“We will definitely miss Chris and we wish him the best of luck at Davidson,” Bruggeman said. “He has shown continued success on the court and has helped mold his players into the truest definition of student-athletes, routinely earning some of the highest GPA’s in the athletic department, as well as the institution.”
“The people who make this move most difficult are the players and staff I’ve worked with over the years,” Willis said. “I’d like to thank every athlete and coach who competed with me for the Lions. Far beyond the wins and losses, the team changed my life in profound ways. My time at Missouri Southern has been a wonderful experience, and I wish the university and volleyball program the very best in the future.”