Northern Kentucky
Aker in 1979

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – Bill Aker, the man who started the baseball program at then-Northern Kentucky State College in 1971 and spent 29 years as the Norse head coach, passed away Saturday at the age of 71.

Aker led NKU to a pair of World Series appearances (1979, 1985) during his 29 years as head coach and finished with 807 career victories. He was also named Great Lakes Valley Conference Coach of the Year in 1992 and 2000.

“Bill Aker was a first-class gentleman, and he was a great ambassador for both NKU baseball and our entire athletic department,” NKU director of athletics Dr. Scott Eaton said. “He built the baseball program from scratch and made a tremendous impact on many people in this community. Bill cared a great deal about his players, and his influence went far beyond the baseball field. He took great pride in helping to mold outstanding young men.

“When you think of NKU baseball, you immediately think of Bill Aker. Our hearts go out to his family, and Bill will be deeply missed.”

Aker’s 1977 team won a school-record 49 games and was ranked as high as No. 7 in the NCAA Division II poll. Two years later, NKU captured the first regional championship in school history.

Aker earned Great Lakes Region Coach of the Year honors three times (1977, 1979, 1981) during his career. He was also named NAIA Area IV Coach of the Year in 1985 after leading NKU to the NAIA World Series.

His 1989 squad posted a 45-9 record and came within one out of qualifying for the NCAA Division II World Series. Aker won at least 30 games 11 times during his career with the Norse, and his teams recorded four 40-win seasons.

Aker sent numerous NKU players to the professional level, including pitcher Chris Hook. Hook became the first NKU player to make the Major Leagues when he made his debut in 1995 for the San Francisco Giants.

Aker retired from coaching after the 2000 season and was inducted into the David Lee Holt NKU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2003.