YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Trustees at Youngstown State University voted Friday to offer the president’s job to former Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel, who started his college coaching career there.
Tressel, who has been an administrator at the University of Akron for two years, could not immediately be reached for comment. The Youngstown State appointment won’t be official until a contract is signed, school spokesman Ron Cole said. The board chairman and vice chairman were authorized to begin negotiations.
Tressel became a popular figure in the area while coaching Youngstown State’s football team from 1986 to 2000, a run that included four Division I-AA national titles, and serving as the Penguins’ athletic director for part of that time.
In picking the school’s next leader, trustees chose the 61-year-old Tressel over the president of Southern Oregon University and the chancellor of the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
"After fully examining each and every candidate and reviewing the input from hundreds of individuals across the campus and the community, the Board of Trustees believes Mr. Tressel is the right individual at the right time to lead Youngstown State University," board chairman Sudershan Garg said in a statement. "Mr. Tressel has the personality and leadership skills, in addition to widespread community support, to dramatically raise YSU’s profile and prominence across Ohio and the nation."
Tressel recently was a finalist for but was not chosen to be president at the University of Akron, where he currently is executive vice president for student success. He went to Akron after being forced out at Ohio State following a scandal in which players sold memorabilia for cash and tattoos, leading to an investigation that resulted in sanctions against the team and Tressel.
While making his pitch for the president’s job to faculty, staff and students at Youngstown State, he told reporters he was not planning to return to coaching and would accept his next position with the understanding that it would be long-term.
The faculty union at Youngstown State supported his bid to be president. The 13,500-student school launched its search for a new leader after President Randy Dunn accepted a job leading the Southern Illinois University system.
Tressel received a bachelor’s degree in education from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1975 and a master’s degree in education from the University of Akron in 1977.
He did not immediately return phone or email messages left for him Friday at his Akron office, and a working home or cellphone number for him could not be found.