Dr. Ronald Zwierlein believes YSU eventually will be eyed by the Mid-American Conference.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Youngstown State University has been suffering a decline in enrollment.
One candidate for the university's athletic director believes he knows a way to help.
Dr. Ronald Zwierlein, the third of four candidates to be interviewed for YSU athletic director, says that a well-developed and diverse multi-sport athletic program -- not just one top-heavy and lopsided with football and basketball recruits -- is a way to attract high school students seeking an intercollegiate athletic experience, and to increase the numbers of visitors coming to the campus.
One way to help reverse a slide in numbers is to develop and expand the "minor" intercollegiate sports programs on campus, to attract more high-quality student-athletes looking to play college volleyball or soccer or field hockey or shoot on the rifle team, as examples.
Attraction: "A broad-based athletic program is important in athletics. And you attract fan support," said Dr. Zwierlein, a senior associate vice president at Bowling Green State, at a press conference Tuesday in the Bresnahan Room at YSU.
He said a college "can be better off" with a broad-based intercollegiate program," and that it "surely does help in enrollment," and that he would like to get "coaches more involved in recruiting" their student-athletes to the campus.
"I hope we can increase enrollment through athletics," said Dr. Zwierlein, who served as Bowling Green athletic director for five years before taking his current post in 1999, and has had a wealth and variety of experience in the intercollegiate arena.
His successor as AD was Paul Krebs, a native of Canfield.
Dr. Zwierlein also is a former Bowling Green swimmer who served as swimming coach there and at John Carroll where he also was tennis coach.
A director for all: Reminded that he would be replacing an athletic director [Jim Tressel] who at the same time served as football coach, Dr. Zwierlein said that he would try to serve as an "independent" athletic director for all sports -- not just football and basketball -- and that he would try to "provide athletic direction" to the entire program.
Leadership -- "That's what I hope to bring to this institution," which he called a "diamond in the rough."
In fact, he said the "athletic facilities at YSU are equivalent to the [Mid-American Conference] schools and rival other schools."
Bring in capital: And he also wants to find ways to bring money to the campus.
"The challenge here is generating new revenue," said Dr. Zwierlein, who believes one of his strongest assets is his connections within the national intercollegiate sports structure.
"The ties that I have made in the [national] athletic community will assist me in my endeavors," he said.
Has favors due: Another advantage Dr. Zwierlein brings his link to the MAC and knowledge of its inner workings, which could help YSU gain admission to that league should it desire to do so.
But he doesn't yet know if YSU would be better off in the MAC -- which previously had rejected the school for membership -- or in fact if the MAC will remain intact as a league.
"YSU has more to offer than some of the MAC schools," he said. "We [Bowling Green] supported YSU's admission to the MAC. But there were rumors that [non-Ohio] schools clustered together to keep YSU out" because they didn't want the MAC to become too overly Ohio.
YSU in new light: Now, however, Dr. Zwierlein said that as many as five MAC schools may not be able to meet the Division I requirements in the near future, and that this loss would make YSU attractive for membership and reopen the door to the league.
In fact, he believes the "MAC will be chasing YSU" in the near future, although he's not so sure at this point if the school would want to be caught.