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YOUNGSTOWN — Ohio residents may soon learn if, and how well, charisma and leadership shown as a football coach will translate into running one of the state’s public research universities.
Trustees at Youngstown State University on Friday voted unanimously to offer the school’s presidency to Jim Tressel, 61, an administrator at the University of Akron who spent most of his career coaching football at institutions including Ohio State University and Youngstown State.
The appointment will not be final until the northeast Ohio native and trustee leaders come to terms on a contract, a process that could wrap up as early as Monday evening when the board meets.
Mr. Tressel would be the ninth president of the comprehensive urban research university with 13,500 students, one of Ohio’s 13 public universities. He underwent campus interviews earlier this week as one of three finalists, two of whom lead university campuses in North Carolina and Oregon.
Mr Tressel is executive vice president for Student Success at the University of Akron, a post he ascended to after serving since 2012 as Akron’s vice president for Strategic Engagement.
But the bulk of his career has been spent as a football coach. He amassed a successful track record over the years but left his last head coaching job amid a scandal that led to NCAA sanctions.
Between 2001 and 2010, he coached Ohio State teams that captured the national championship in 2002 and seven Big Ten championships. Previously, he coached at Youngstown State for 14 years beginning in 1986, winning four Division I-AA national championships.
He also served as Youngstown State’s executive director of Athletics from 1994 to 2000. And he worked as an assistant football coach at Ohio State, Syracuse University, Miami University of Ohio, and the University of Akron.
“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 Dr. 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.”
Mr. Tressel was not available Friday for comment but is to address the media following Monday’s 6 p.m. trustees meeting, said Ron Cole, a Youngstown spokesman. The president-elect issued a statement for himself, his wife, Ellen, and family:
“We are honored and privileged to accept the board’s offer and we are humbled by this opportunity to return to the area and school that we deeply love,” the statement read in part. “Ellen and I plan to be on campus for that meeting. Until then, out of respect for the process, I will reserve any further comment,” he wrote.
Mr. Tressel would succeed Randy J. Dunn, who resigned in March after eight months on the job to take the presidency of Southern Illinois University. His annual salary was $375,000 plus benefits, Dr. Garg said.
As Ohio State football coach, Mr. Tressel was paid more than $3.5 million in 2010, according to the Associated Press. But he was forced to resign for failing to tell his superiors that he had learned players were trading memorabilia for cash and tattoos, breaking NCAA rules.
Mr. Tressel also was a finalist for the presidency at Akron. This week Scott Scarborough, the University of Toledo’s provost, was named Akron’s 16th president.
The Block News Alliance consists of The Blade and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Bill Schackner and Ryan Petrovich are reporters for the Post-Gazette.