The faculty objected, and football was discontinued as an intercollegiate sport for 15 years. The OWU football team then played its first intercollegiate contest on Saturday, May 3, 1890, falling to Ohio State, 20-14. Branch Rickey, who had returned to his alma mater as football and baseball coach and athletics director, and halfback James Rike led the 1907 football team to a 7-3 record. Two years later, another Hall of Famer, Lynn St. John, became the head football coach. George Gauthier, the “Little Giant,” took over as head football coach and athletics director in 1921 at the request of Branch Rickey.
Gauthier’s 1925 football squad had a 7-1-1 season and the Bishops won the Ohio Athletic Conference championship with a 6-0 record. The next year, Ohio Wesleyan left the OAC to help form the Buckeye Conference.
In 1927, Ohio Wesleyan provided the opposition for the first game in Michigan Stadium. Michigan won, 33-0, but in 1928, the football team beat Michigan, 17-7, in Ann Arbor. That same year, the Bishops won their second Buckeye crown in three years.
Independent since the demise of the Buckeye Conference nearly a decade earlier, Ohio Wesleyan was readmitted into the OAC in 1947. In 1951, the Bishops won the OAC title, their first under Glenn Fraser. Two years later, the football team finished 8-0-1, its first undefeated season during the modern era, and won its second OAC crown in three years.
The football team achieved an undefeated season in 1967, winning Coach Jack Fouts’ first OAC title. The Ohio Wesleyan football team played in the 1971 Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl, then the NCAA College Division Western Regional title game. In 1989, the Bishops shared the NCAC football title under Coach Mike Hollway. OWU finished with an 8-1-1 mark, tying the school record for regular season victories, and was ranked among the top 20 in NCAA Division III for the first time.
In 1990, Ohio Wesleyan led the nation in rushing defense and was ranked among the top 20 in the Division III polls for the second straight year. In 1999, Ohio Wesleyan became the 10th NCAA Division III football program to win 500 games. In 2012, the football team finished 9-1 and shared the NCAC championship, Ohio Wesleyan’s first conference title since 1989.
Built and dedicated in 1929, Selby Stadium has been updated with a new Field Turf artificial playing surface for the 2014-15 academic year, lights for the 2010-11 academic year, and a video scoreboard in the spring of 2011. An earlier restoration project included a new, 2-level press box, new bleacher seats and refurbished locker rooms. The venue is one of the most impressive among NCAA Division III institutions.