Abell leaves Washington & Lee for Davidson job

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Scott Abell on the sidelines
Scott Abell had been head coach at Washington & Lee since Frank Miriello's retirement in 2012.
Washington & Lee athletics photo

Washington and Lee athletic director Jan Hathorn has announced that Scott Abell has resigned as head football coach to accept the same position at Davidson.

Davidson, a Division I FCS program which does not give football scholarships, was 2-9 this past season, with both wins against Division III schools. W&L was 8-3 this past season, falling 21-0 in the first round of the playoffs at eventual national champion Mount Union.

Davidson's last win against a Division I program was in November 2015.

"Washington and Lee is an amazing place and my family and I will cherish the memories and relationships we have made through the years," said Abell.  "I would like to personally thank all of the coaches, staff and athletic director Jan Hathorn for their leadership and hard work with the football team.

"The W&L football program is in a strong place because of its student-athletes and working alongside those students is what has made this decision so difficult. I feel certain that the program will continue to thrive for years to come. Washington and Lee University and Lexington will be a place my family will remember with extreme fondness."

Abell served as the Generals' head coach for six seasons, compiling a 39-24 (.619) overall record and winning three Old Dominion Athletic Conference titles. The three conference titles are the most for any coach in program history, while his winning percentage is the highest since W.C. Raftery compiled a 23-10 (.697) mark for four seasons from 1917-21. He was named the ODAC Coach of the Year three times and twice claimed the Williard Bailey Award as the top NCAA Division II/III Coach in Virginia.

"As cliché as it sounds, this is truly a very bittersweet moment: We are happy for Scott yet we are sad to see him go," said Hathorn. "It is hard to put into words all the positive things Scott has meant to W&L — to the football program, to athletics, and to the University, as a whole. He is a champion, in every way, and we couldn't be more pleased for him as he seeks this new challenge in his career.

"We will undoubtedly miss Scott and his leadership, yet we are, most of all, thankful to him for all that he has done to lead our students in their pursuit of excellence in the classroom, on the playing field, and in life after W&L. He has made us all better. We wish him, and his family, all the best in their future at Davidson."

Abell arrived at Washington and Lee in 2008 as assistant coach and offensive coordinator. He immediately transformed the Generals' offense into one of the best in Division III by using a modified option offense. As an assistant coach, his offenses culminated in an ODAC title and 8-3 overall record in 2010 and an 8-2 mark in 2011.

Abell took over the reins as head coach in 2012 after the retirement of Frank Miriello. He guided W&L to the ODAC title in his first season, producing an 8-3 overall record and setting 15 school records in the process.

Injuries took their toll over the next two seasons, as the Generals finished 5-5 and 2-8 in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Despite the setbacks, W&L still ranked among the national leaders in rushing offense.

The 2015 season would prove to be one of the most successful in program history, as W&L finished with a 10-1 overall record and again won the ODAC title. The Generals finished the regular season with a 10-0 mark, the first undefeated regular season for the Blue & White in 54 years. W&L was the first team in ODAC history to have a perfect 7-0 league mark and the Generals finished the season ranked 21st in the final D3football.com poll.

W&L notched a 6-4 overall record in 2016 and claimed another ODAC title this fall, finishing with an 8-3 overall record and a 5-1 mark in conference play.  The Generals finished the season ranked second nationally in rushing and held eventual national champion Mount Union to just 276 yards and 21 points in a 21-0 loss to the Purple Raiders in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Abell's teams set nearly every school rushing record during his time with the program, ranking no lower than sixth in Division III in rushing offense since the 2010 campaign. During that time, W&L led all of college football in rushing twice, and topped Division III in rushing three times.

A national search for a new head football coach will begin immediately.

Dec. 14: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Mount Union at Mary Hardin-Baylor
@ Woodforest Bank Stadium; Shenandoah, Texas
Video Preview Audio Tickets
Dec. 14: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Mount Union at Mary Hardin-Baylor
@ Woodforest Bank Stadium; Shenandoah, Texas
Audio Preview Video Tickets