ATLANTA-Georgia State's long-time softball coach Bob Heck has stepped down as head coach, effective immediately. Third-year assistant coach Roger Kincaid will take over as the interim head coach for the remainder of the 2011 season.

Heck, 85, was in his 24th season as head coach since elevating the softball program to fast-pitch status in 1985. He earned career win No. 700 Sunday, and his coaching record stands at 700-584-2.

"Coach Heck built our softball program from scratch, from the team to the facility, and we are forever grateful for everything that he has done for Georgia State University," said Director of Athletics Cheryl L. Levick. "Coach Heck decided that this was the time to step down. His record is remarkable, his generosity is unmatched, and we can't thank him enough."

Heck guided his Georgia State teams to six conference championships, highlighted by an NCAA Regional berth in 1994. He was named Colonial Athletic Association Coach of the Year in 2006, when he led the Panthers to the conference's regular-season title in their first season in the CAA. He also earned Coach of the Year accolades in GSU's former home, the Trans America Athletic Conference.

Since Georgia State moved to the CAA in 2005-06, Heck's Panthers have posted five straight winning seasons and have finished third or higher in the league standings each year, including the regular-season title in 2006 and runner-up finishes the last three seasons. With a 70-32 record in conference play, GSU has won nearly 70 percent of its CAA games. The Panthers have advanced to the CAA Championship game in three of their five seasons in the league.

In the CAA era, Heck coached four CAA Rookie of the Year winners, one CAA Player of the Year, one CAA Pitcher of the Year and one CAA Scholar-Athlete of the Year, along with 36 all-conference and all-rookie honorees.

During his tenure, more than 90 student-athletes earned first or second-team all-conference honors.

Heck's student-athletes have also excelled in the classroom. Last fall, the softball team posted a team grade point average of 3.40, with 10 individuals on the Dean's List or President's List.

Heck began his association with Georgia State athletics in 1981 as a volunteer assistant coach with the Panther softball team, then playing slow-pitch. In 1984, he served as the head coach of the slow-pitch team, but the NCAA did not recognize this as a sport. In the spring of 1985, Georgia State began playing NCAA fast-pitch softball with Heck as its first head coach.

Recently inducted into the Georgia Dugout Club Softball Hall of Fame, Heck is recognized as a pioneer of softball in the state of Georgia as his Panthers were the first NCAA-sanctioned fast-pitch program in the state.

He guided the fledging program from the New South Women's Athletic Conference (NSWAC) through its growth into the Trans America Athletic Conference (TAAC) and then the Atlantic Sun Conference before Georgia State moved to the CAA.

That first season, 1985, was Heck's only losing record in his first 10 years. By his fourth year, he produced his first 40-win team with a 42-20 squad (.677) in 1988. A year later, he had a NSWAC championship team. In 1990, he coached another conference championship team with a school record-tying 42 wins. 

By 1994, Heck had built a team that was ranked in the Top 25 in the nation and earned an NCAA Tournament bid.

Following the 1998 season, Heck retired for three years before returning to the dugout in the fall of 2001.

Born in Wheeling, W. Va., Heck is a World War II veteran who served in the U.S. Navy. Following his military service, he earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Georgia and later added graduate degrees from Emory and Georgia State.

His career in athletics began as a teacher, head track coach and assistant football coach at Druid Hills High School in Atlanta. He also worked as a high school football referee for 25 years.

In 1957, he began a career as a national bank examiner with the Controller of the Currency office for 10 years. He moved on to the Federal Reserve Bank and worked there until retiring in 1991.

Georgia State's softball complex at Panthersville is named Bob Heck Field in recognition of his generosity in the construction of the top-notch venue, which includes an indoor practice facility. Heck is one of eight Founding Life Members of the Panther Athletic Club, the fund-raising arm of Georgia State Athletics, and he was honored with Georgia State's Sparks Award in 2005 for his service to the University.

Kincaid, who has served as the program's top assistant and recruiting coordinator, takes over a team with a record of 5-5.

A national search for a permanent head coach will begin following the 2011 season.