Lion - Fall 2019 - Celebrating A Storied 125 Years Of Intercollegiate Athletics

Lion - Fall 2019 - Celebrating A Storied 125 Years Of Intercollegiate Athletics

By Bob Heller

It has been over 12 decades since the first athletics program, the Lincoln football team, was founded at Lincoln University. Since that day in 1894, athletics has been an integral part of the Lincoln experience.

To celebrate the 125th anniversary of football and intercollegiate athletics at Lincoln, the Athletics Department invites Lion fans to join in a year-long commemoration of the history and tradition of Lincoln athletics.

The celebrations will include a gala and the publication of a commemorative book highlighting the history of athletics. 

“Our goal is not only to pay homage to Lincoln’s storied athletics history,” says, Harry Stinson III, the director of athletics, “but to heighten awareness of how athletics shapes the community and society and Lincoln’s major role in the way that black college sports have evolved.”

Lincoln's first football game was a 6-4 win over Howard University in Washington, D.C. It was the beginning of a rivalry that would evolve into a Thanksgiving Day tradition dubbed “The Classic”—a game that, during the 1920s and early ’30s, attracted crowds that included the elite among African Americans and stars from the Harlem Renaissance.

Franz “Jazz” Byrd ’25, a 2018 inductee into the Lincoln Hall of Fame, turned in some of his most spectacular performances of his career in the LincolnHoward games, including an 80-yard kickoff return in 1924—the year the Lions outscored their opponents 206-3 and won their only CIAA Championship under the guidance of Ulysses “Lyss” Young.