By Tanisha Morris and Latevin Walker
With second semester in full effect, Lincoln University’s football team is back in the gym training for next season.
However, the team has begun preparing without their former head coach Olabaniji “O.J.” Abanishe.
Abanishe, who was formally let go on in December, compiled a 7-33 record since 2009, the year the moved to its current Division II status.
The first coach since 1960, Abasinhe was hired in 2007 to help rebuild the program. In its first contest against George Mason University on Aug. 30 2008, Lincoln University defeated George Mason University 34-7.
But during his tenure, Lincoln’s football team never won more than 3 games in a season, and was 1-9 last season, a year that included a lopsided, nationally-publicized defeat to Wofford University by an 82-0 margin. Last season was also the team’s first in its new, multi-million dollar stadium located on campus.
Based on this performance, Athletic Director Dianthia Ford-Kee said she made a decision to take the program in a different direction.
I applaud coach Abanishe for his efforts. He has graduated quite a few outstanding football athletes,” said Ford-Kee. “(But) when we look at the win-lost record, we have not been very successful there.”
Student athletes were notified of the decision in December, via a text message from the former coach.
“Yesterday was my last day at Lincoln. Just wanted to tell you good luck and stick with it. Unfortunately won’t be able to tell you guys in person like I wanted to,” Abanishe’s message said.
The department is still is the process of searching for a new coach. Ford-Kee hopes to have a new coach in place by early March. The posting for the position closed last week.
Ford-Kee said she is looking for a person who can help lead the program to greater success.
In the interim, the team will be lead by assistant coaches Shelton Bynum and Herb Pickens.
“Coach OJ is a great man. I have nothing bad to say about him, but he might have lost at Lincoln he never lost his love for the game,” Pickens said of his former boss.