OAKLAND CITY -- The Mike Sandifar era apparently has ended at Oakland City University.
One source, not connected to the university, reported late Thursday afternoon that two OCU staffers had told him that Sandifar would not be renewed as men's basketball coach, athletic director and assistant to the president. Early Thursday evening, a second source confirmed the report, saying that Sandifar had so informed Mighty Oaks and Lady Oaks coaches that morning in his weekly athletic department meeting.
Athletic director all of his 32 years at OCU, and basketball coach in 28 of those years, Sandifar could not be reached for comment Thursday evening or Friday. Twice a voice message was left on his cell phone.
One source reported that while Sandifar did not give fellow coaches a reason why his contract is not being renewed, or who so told him, he hinted that he plans to appeal that decision.
Including the past season's 24-5 record capped by a 19-game win streak and the Christian College National
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Invitational championship in Johnson Center, Sandifar guided the Mighty Oaks to a composite 557-268 record the 1987-88 through 1998-99 and 2003-04 through 2018-19 seasons. Through 44 seasons, including stints of six years at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kan., three at Averett College lin Danville, Va., three at New Washington High School, two at Pike Central, and one each at Whitewater Township and Redkey High, his teams won 785 times around 421 losses. That's a .655 percentage.
Perhaps his career highlight is the National Christian College Athletic Association championship won in Johnson Center, between NCCAA runnerup finishes in 1994 and 2006.
Another highlight came from the academic excellence he insisted that OCU athletes seek. In 2004 the university received the USA Today Award for best athlete graduation percentage of any NCAA Division II college.
Though age 72 when the past season began, Sandifar planned to continue coaching several more years. He did not hint at an age for retirement.
He once remarked, "If you put in the paper how old I am, people will ask me how long I intend to coach."
The past season's 24 wins matched the OCU school record set in a 2017-18 season capped by a CCNIT championship loss to Wilberforce. The 105-99 win over Wilberforce in the 2019 CCNIT final marked the Mighty Oaks' fifth championship in the eight-year history of the tournament begun by their athletic director and head coach, who is a member of the Oakland City University Athletic Hall of Fame and the Greater Evansville Basketball Hall of Fame.
Sandifar's four-year exodus from the OCU men's basketball coach role coincided with the increase in his duties as assistant to the president. At one point in that stretch, he remarked, "I miss not having a family during basketball season."
Not only did basketball family return in 2003-04, after John Hayes left the OCU head coaching role to become coach at Tell City High School, his family increased a few years later when he married the former Mary Perdue.
They remain inseparable. When heart problems put the coach and athletic director in Newburgh-based Deaconess Hospital early in 2017, Mary Sandifar was constantly by his side.
In his assistant to the president and athletic director roles, Sandifar became known for fundraising excellence.
Under his guidance, OCU athletics expanded, notably with the addition of men's and women's soccer early this century. Thus he willingly increased his administrative chores while also staying active on the basketball recruiting front.
The basketball Mighty Oaks' 24-5 record the past season marked their 18th 20-win campaign in Sandifar's 28 years. Each of his 28 OCU teams played in the postseason. Midway through his 11th season, in 1997-98, he surpassed the school record of 199 career wins by Delbert "Chief" Disler.
The 2019-20 men's basketball coach will face a challenge despite return of starters Tyler Toopes, Jacob Sanford and Nathaniel Schmittler from the 24-5 season.
Last month's graduates include 6-foot-6 forward and South Knox grad Andrew Scott, whose 2,175 career points are second in Mighty Oaks' history to the 2,402 by Jim Fleming from 1970-71 through 1073-74; and Evansville Reitz-bred 6-5 forward Logan Worthington, whose 1,523 career points stand eighth all-time.