JOPLIN, Mo (KODE) – Missouri Southern Head Football Coach Denver Johnson has resigned effective immediately.

The school named Defensive Coordinator Joe Bettasso the interim Head Coach for the remainder of the 2018 season. According to MSSU Athletics, a national search will be conducted for the next head football coach following the season, reports KODE. 

Bettasso, a Joplin native and former Missouri Southern Defensive Back, is in his first season as the team’s defensive coordinator after spending three seasons at McKendree University. Bettasso was the head coach at McPherson College in Kansas from 2010-2011.

The Joplin native began his coaching career at MSSU as a Student Assistant and later a Graduate Assistant.

“After long and thoughtful reflection, I have chosen at this time to resign out of consideration of the program,” Johnson said in an MSSU Athletics Press Release. “I believe that affording the University the opportunity to begin a search immediately and name a new coach early in the upcoming recruiting cycle is paramount.”

“There is a very capable staff in place to shepherd the program through the remainder of the season,” Johnson added in the release. “They are fine men and good coaches and they will provide the needed mentorship and guidance through this transition.”

The Lions Football team is currently 0-3 in 2018 and is on a 16-game losing streak dating back to the 2016 season. Most recently, MSSU lost 63-0 Saturday to Northwest Missouri State. In parts of four seasons at the helm of Missouri Southern, Johnson led the team to just a 3-33 record overall.

Missouri Southern Athletics Director Jared Bruggeman said in the release, “On behalf of everyone in the athletic department, I’d like to thank Coach Johnson for the hard work he and his staff have put into this program. It is a daunting task coaching in the MIAA, and he has done it with nothing but class. I wish him, his wife Danita and his two daughters nothing but the best in their future endeavors.”

“I would like to thank Coach Johnson for his service to this institution,” said Missouri Southern President Dr. Alan Marble. “Throughout his time here, he has coached the team with the utmost of integrity and we wish him all the best in the future.”

The Lions are home for No. 18 Fort Hays State Saturday at 6:00 P.M.