Timothy Gleason, commissioner of the Ohio Athletic Conference, is in the running to replace Jim Tressel.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Timothy Gleason didn't have to remain in the Mahoning Valley, it was his choice. Now, he's one of four candidates in the running to replace Jim Tressel as athletic director at Youngstown State.
"My home could be in Columbus or Cleveland or Canton or Akron," said Gleason, commissioner of the Ohio Athletic Conference, "but I'm here.
"When you combine that local grounding with the passion I have for this community and the experiences I've had, that makes me comfortable."
Staying home: Gleason, 46, graduated from Chaney High and has resided in Mineral Ridge for the past six years.
"When you live in the community as long as I have, you know where the bones are buried. That has a tremendous asset to it," Gleason said. "I understand the political environment and the history of this community; I've worked in the steel mills. I understand how this community transformed itself into a new identity."
Gleason calls his potential opportunity at Youngstown State "the best job at the best college in the best city in the country."
Whether he gets the chance to fill that role depends on the university, which also can choose Michael Moore, athletic director at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis; Ron Strollo, associate executive director of athletics at Youngstown State, or Dr. Ronald Zwierlein, senior associate vice president at Bowling Green.
Youngstown State's decision could come as early as the week of July 9, said Trevor Parks, sports information director.
Getting started: While at Chaney, Gleason was a two-year letter winner in track and field. A lack of athletic ability, however, drove him away from the field but never away from sports, he said.
"I realized I loved sports so much that I wanted to be a part of it," he said.
So, he became a basketball manager and a statistician. He remained involved behind the scenes.
Gleason's first administrative job, intramural supervisor at Youngstown State, came in 1975. It's a position he still lists on his resume to show the importance of his "roots."
He became graduate assistant to the athletic business manager at Nicholls State University before accepting positions with the NCAA and National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.
He's been on at least six national athletic committees.
"Having seen college athletics from so many different perspectives, it gives me a better focal point," Gleason said.
It also makes him competitive and eager.
"I've always believed in being in front of the power curve and not behind it," Gleason said. "I don't want to sit back and read about what's coming down the pike. I want to be out there in front helping to shape that destiny."
Planning stages: Gleason sees the future for Youngstown State as one with broad-based programs, providing equality for student-athletes.
"I want people to think of YSU as a place where we treat all of our student-athletes equally," Gleason said. "It doesn't matter whether you run cross country or play football."
Gleason said he believes the biggest challenges for the Penguins include the transition into the Horizon League, securing long-term funding for programs and supporting them with creative thinking.
"Moving into the Horizon League is going to help the rest of the sports because we're going to see how much we need to step up our programs and make them competitive in that league," Gleason said.
"There are a lot of hurdles that have to be leapt," he said. "As a conference commissioner, I've seen it on both sides of the fence. So, I think I can help that transition."