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Tressel could lead a Y-juco

Published: Sun, January 20, 2013 @ 12:00 a.m.

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

If you believe that Youngstown State University is a glorified junior college (juco) — community college — then Jim Tressel, the disgraced former football coach at Ohio State University, would be perfect as president.

However, if you are of the opinion that Youngstown State is on verge of academic significance with its STEM and business colleges, for example, then having Tressel at the helm would be a grave mistake.

Tressel’s reputation — not the one built on winning national football championship teams at OSU and YSU, but for lying to the NCAA — would undermine the university’s future. Ohio’s public universities and colleges are under the gun. Officials in Columbus have made it clear that state funding will be based on academic performance rather than enrollment numbers or other factors, such as the percentage of first-time college attendees, and the socio-economic profile of the students.

Indeed, Gov. John Kasich has said that YSU and other such institutions must become more selective in their admission policies. The governor wants two-year institutions, such as Eastern Gateway Community College, to become the first stop for high school graduates and those with GEDs who need remediation in the basics so they can tackle college courses.

High cost

Four-year colleges are spending a great deal of money on remediation.

The average of six years it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree has also come under fire from the governor and the outgoing chancellor of the board of regents, Jim Petro. They want a four-year average.

Against that backdrop, Youngstown State needs a president with strong academic credentials. Tressel does not fit the bill.

The board of trustees has begun a search for a successor to Dr. Cynthia Anderson, who is retiring on July 1. A national consulting firm will be hired, and a screening committee has been formed to review the applicants.

While Tressel is being touted by individuals in the Valley with strong ties to YSU, trustee Chairman Dr. Sudershan Garg has said the former coach would have to go through the application process like everyone else.

That’s the way it should be. There can be no backroom deals like the one some years ago. It was a fiasco that not only embarrassed the individual being pushed by some trustees at the time, but also the university.

With Tressel, an Internet search will show that his violation of NCAA rules and his fall from grace at Ohio State is featured more prominently than his national championships at Ohio’s flagship institution of higher learning and Youngstown State.

It will also show that while Ohio State President Dr. Gordon Gee agreed to let Tressel change his resignation to retirement, which allows him to be a Buckeye for life, he did not permit the former coach to be a faculty member.

Tressel, who has a huge following in the Mahoning Valley, is currently vice president for strategic engagement at the University of Akron, a newly created position that supports programs promoting student success, according to The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

How do you create programs to promote student success? With money — a lot of money.

That seems to be the argument for having Tressel serve as president of YSU: He can raise badly needed revenue.

But, if YSU is to be taken seriously as an institution of higher learning, it needs someone at the helm whose resume reflects a commitment to academics.

OSU’s president

Instead of being distracted by a Tressel candidacy, the trustees should contact Dr. Gee at Ohio State and ask him for a list of names of potential candidates who would meet the challenges of higher education in Ohio.

Why Gee? Because he has become Gov. Kasich’s chief higher education adviser. He was chosen by Kasich to chair the commission on funding for capital projects on campuses, and on state funding for public universities and colleges.

The governor is an unabashed fan of the president of Ohio State. Youngstown State certainly could benefit by having Gee in its corner.

If Youngstown State is to be taken seriously as an institution of higher learning, it needs an individual with strong academic credentials as president.

As a glorified junior college (community college), it doesn’t.


1formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Let me qualify my following statements by stating that I am no great fan of Jim Tressel. His actions regarding higher education often have not matched his emphasis of its importance with the external media. And yes, I did teach at YSU for several years during Coach Tressel's tenure at YSU, encountered his players in my classes and never once did Coach Tressel or his assistants ever bother to check his players' class attendance or grade progress during a semester.

However, once again Mr. deSousa comments as if he were an expert about an issue that he knows little about. The role of a university president in today's educational world is a combination of PR leader and revenue producer. A university president with a Ph.D provides a school PR that gives the public the impression that the institution values education more than other schools. Remember that Penn State's recently indicted former president was a Ph. D.

Dr. Gordon Gee of OSU that Mr. deSousa cites in his articles is a serial university president (Vanderbilt, Brown, Colorado, West Virginia) who thrives on presenting an academic appearance with his bow ties, yet is well-recognized in inner circles as a master fund raiser. He was also reprimanded for lavish overspending while at Vanderbilt, so Dr. Gee's management record is not exactly spotless. His OSU $1,6 million salary is the highest in the country. I seriously doubt that salary is based upon Dr. Gee's research record.

So I would not exactly rely upon Mr. Gee's consulting expertise in the YSU president search process, particularly since he stated in the initial news conference after "tattoo-gate" was first reported that he was worried that Tressel would fire him prior to Tressel's departure from OSU.

The behind-the-scenes "dirty" work of dealing with academic program quality rests with a university's second in command: the provost. This office makes final decisions on adding/eliminating/funding academic programs across the campus, along with participating in recruitment, evaluation and retention of teaching faculty. The provost position demands a well-rounded, experienced Ph. D. who understands the importance of quality teaching, research, and service to the community and university.

Based on the context of the two positions described above and my 30+ years of higher education teaching experience working with college administrators, I see nothing wrong with Mr. Tressel serving as YSU president/chief fund raiser as long as he agrees to allow the provost position to be led by a respected, experienced academic and generates the funding necessary to carry out YSU's teaching mission on campus and in the community.

No one can question Mr. Tressel's ability during his YSU and OSU coaching days to organize and coordinate an experienced staff to carry out a game plan. There is no reason to believe that he would not do the same to carry out YSU's future academic game plan serving as YSU president.

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2valleyred(1097 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago


It does not matter who Youngstown State selects as their next President, you will continue to bash and try to degrade that fine institution of higher learning. I would love to know why each year you find it necessary to rip Youngstown State University? What did the school ever do to you?

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3papa1(662 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

tressel doesn't have the moral fiber to lead ANY university. there is and always will be a stench that follows him around. he was on his way to being the next woody hayes. the only difference was woody loved the ohio state university much more than he loved himself. unlike tressel.

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4formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

To kurtw:

1. You may not like the way academic administration works, but my explanations regarding university president/provost functions are the reality found at most higher education institutions.

I did not previously say I supported Mr. Tressel for YSU president, but based upon the PR/fund raising expectations for the job, I see nothing wrong with his appointment if it would occur under the guidelines that I previously mentioned.

2. During my teaching career, I have served on a variety business college advisory committees composed of many private business executives, including CEOs of large and small organizations. Based on my interactions with these individuals, CEOs are charged with representing their companies and greatly involved in PR activities similar to university presidents. Also, if you think that CEOs don't delegate daily operational responsibilities to their subordinates, think again.

3. College education is big business today. More university boards are turning to experienced CEOs without Ph.Ds to run their universities in a more business-like manner, while handing academic responsibilities to top subordinate administrators.

4. It is my opinion that Mr. Tressel is still held in high regard by the majority of Ohioans, particularly in NE Ohio. If this were not true, then why has the University of Akron risked its "reputation" by employing Mr. Tressel as a major fund raiser at an annual salary of $250,000?

5. My criticism of Mr. deSouza's article refers to his lack of understanding of the reality of university president functions. I'm not defending YSU, but rather stating some realities of higher education today that often are not known by the general public. Frankly, Mr. deSouza article exposed nothing that hasn't previously been reported in the media.

6. Mr. Tressel was not "fired for making an arrangement with a Tattoo Shop owner to sell University Trinkets." QB Terelle Pryor and other OSU football players perpetrated the ineligible (not illegal) activity.

Rather, Mr. Tressel resigned his position after acknowledging his failure to report Tattoogate to OSU and NCAA officials when first learning about the issue and subsequently denying knowledge of such incidents when later confronted by NCAA investigators. Knowing the true nature of academic administrators from my own past experiences, I suspect that President Gee and OSU AD Gene Smith did everything possible to cover up Tattoogate when they first became aware of the incident. Rather than risk further PR damage to OSU, I believe that President Gee and AD Smith held Tressel as the scandal scapegoat to save their positions, perhaps with Tressel's blessing as he was allowed to retire rather than resign or be fired.

As you implied, Dr. Gee and his cronies are no saints. Neither is Mr. Tressel. But the dirty little truth about higher education today is generating dollars. And that is what Mr. Tressel is very good at doing.

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5formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Here's an Associated Press article to today's Vindy that substantiates my claim that higher education today is big business with decisions driven much more by monetary concerns than academic excellence.

It also demonstrates Gov. Kasich's definition of quality academic performance in the state of Ohio will likely be accomplished via lower faculty labor costs (consistent with many of his prior actions) by hiring lesser qualified faculty teaching part-time and on annual contracts while improving productivity (revenues).

Notice that the $5.2 million savings will be reallocated (rather than actually saving taxpayer dollars) for "competitive" staff salaries and other (administrative) priorities.

That breeze you might feel is from the shudder emanating from faculty at other state universities.

OK, Bertram, let's hear those arguments again for hiring an experienced academic, rather than proven fund raiser, for YSU president.


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6jmagaratz(166 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

A note about some of the Presidents at Youngstown State University.

Dr. Howard Jones--founding President--did not have an "earned doctorate"; rather his was an honorary one.

Dr. Albert Pugsley--second President--did not have an "earned doctorate"; rather his too was an honorary one.

Individuals given such degrees are permitted to use the title "Doctor" as a privilege of the award.

Both of these individuals contributed greatly to the growth of the university.

So much for the so-called value of an "academic President."

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7WhatRUAfraidOf(85 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

jmagaratz-Your logic is flawed. Jones was president of YSU between 1931 and 1966; Pugsley was president from 1966 to 1973. The perceived and actual responsibilities of institutional presidents, as well as the typical tenure in that position have changed significantly in the intervening years. There remains significant value in requiring a university president to possess an earned doctorate degree, unless that person has significant experience in higher education administration at a vice presidential or dean level.

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8formerdemliberal(182 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

The statements I made against Dr. Gee and AD Smith were as follows (emphasis added): "Knowing the true nature of academic administrators FROM MY OWN PAST EXPEREIENCES, I SUSPECT that President Gee and OSU AD Gene Smith did everything possible to cover up Tattoogate when they first became aware of the incident. Rather than risk further PR damage to OSU, I BELIEVE that President Gee and AD Smith held Tressel as the scandal scapegoat to save their positions."

These comments represent my OPINIONS about what might have taken place behind closed doors during the initial reporting of Tattoogate.

Dkurt's comment about academic administrations being a "snake pit" is a very accurate portrayal of daily academic management.

I have found the characteristics of the vast majority of academic administrators that I have worked with involve over-inflated egos that believe they are always right, power accumulation to justify positions that often contribute little value to the education process, rewarding supporters while demeaning those that are perceived as threats, the use of cutthroat politics to further careers without supporting performance evidence, hypocrisy that emphasizes decisions that benefits their own self-interest rather than educational quality, and the use of PR manipulation of potential alumni donors whose donations perpetuate their power bases within their university colleagues.

I have developed complete MBA course proposals, curriculum\ program changes and course proposals for several college business programs. I learned that the only time that I could get academic administrative support for any proposals was to mention that they would either reduce costs or increase revenues. In my experience, he only way to get the attention of college administrators to mention money first, academic quality second.

I have experienced at various universities the money-driven hypocrisy of decisions made within university committees, deans, and executives, contrary to the maintenance of academic quality spewed by university PR lackies. While I disagree with this philosophy, a Tressel presidency would represent a realistic acknowledgement by the YSU trustees that the world of higher education now revolves around the almighty dollar and is only secondarily concerned with academic quality.

One last comment about relying upon Dr. Gee's advice in the search process. What evidence is there that, based on his previous dubious budgetary record, Mr. Gee would advocate any decisions that ultimately would hurt OSU's monetary/academic performance to the benefit of other completing Ohio schools? Why trust Dr. Gee's input into a process that may negatively impact enrollments at his university that he is still accountable for? Just as Dr. Gee might advocate academic changes that would benefit his constituency, so should the YSU search committee and Board of trustees do what they believe is best for YSU constituents, particularly their students.

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9Guin96(40 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago


"I have found the characteristics of the vast majority of academic administrators that I have worked with involve over-inflated egos that believe they are always right, power accumulation to justify positions that often contribute little value to the education process, rewarding supporters while demeaning those that are perceived as threats, the use of cutthroat politics to further careers without supporting performance evidence, hypocrisy that emphasizes decisions that benefits their own self-interest rather than educational quality, and the use of PR manipulation of potential alumni donors whose donations perpetuate their power bases within their university colleagues."

Your comments are so true. This is how administration at YSU works. Just remember, Mr. Tressel was not only a coach at YSU but also Athletic Director and as such, played a very prominent role in the administration.

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10dennismangan(14 comments)posted 1 year, 8 months ago

Well, bellybutton, since you like to point out fallacies, here's one for you. Much of your criticism is based on a contention that any discussion of a Tressel presidency is "hype" and "balderdash." And you ask "where did de Sousa come up with the news that YSU is planning to hire Jim Tressel as president?"
The short answer is that de Souza never said YSU is planning to hire Jim Tressel. What he said was: "While Tressel is being touted by individuals in the Valley with strong ties to YSU, trustee Chairman Dr. Sudershan Garg has said the former coach would have to go through the application process like everyone else."
You're welcome to believe that no one with any influence has been touting Tressel or that Tressel has not talked to anyone about the possibility. But you'd be wrong, just as you've been consistently wrong in the spelling of Bertram's last name.

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11BlueSteel(31 comments)posted 1 year, 7 months ago

@bellybutton - you said that "During his tenure at YSU, he put together some fantastic NCAA football teams and for a few brief years, gave Y-town something to be very proud of ..."

But, let's not forget that YSU was cited by the NCAA for lack of institutional control after Ray Isaac, who quarterbacked the 1991 team to a Division I-AA championship, was later found to have accepted $10,000 and access to cars provided by the former chairman of Youngstown State’s board of trustees.

There were a number of NCAA violations while Tressel was at Youngstown State. Both he and YSU were sanctioned for violating the NCAA CONSTITUTION 2.1.1, 2.1.2, 2.8.1 and 6.4.2, known as Lack of Institutional Control. Youngstown State would accept minor scholarship cuts. But avoiding the truth for so long served the team and city well. With the NCAA's statute of limitations on violations having expired in 1996 -- five years after Isaac left college -- the NCAA declined to strip Youngstown State of its beloved '91 national championship.

YSU was where St. Tressel honed his craft of turning the blind eye from any player wrong doings. While at tOSU, his Sgt. Schultz “I know nothing” shtick was used over and over again, as he pleaded ignorance in 2002 when Maurice Clarett was driving around town in free cars, in 2004 when Troy Smith was taking money from a booster and in 2010 when the Tat Five were cashing in their trinkets for tats and cars.

As a YSU graduate, I would be embarrassed if they hired St Tressel as president.

If anyone needs to refresh their memories of St Tressel, as many YSU and OSU tend to re-write history, check out these gems:



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12frinightlights(10 comments)posted 1 year, 7 months ago

Got some long winded and at times passionate and informative posts here. So let me be brief.

Bert deSouza is a creep and has never done anything good for this town ever. Add this to the list. This guy can ride out of here on the same horse he rode in on and the sooner the better.

Please Please Please do not underestimate Jim Tressel. In my opinion he took the bullet for Gene Smith. If that happens at a SEC school we never hear about it.

Tressel can do the job. No question about it. Whether the school or he is interested remains to be seen.

For what it's worth. And take this to the bank. What Les Cochran did to YSU with the Penguin Place deal is a thousand times worse than what happened with the tattoo's. the man should be arrested.

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13jeepers(127 comments)posted 1 year, 7 months ago

DeeSooza hates all state/gov employees-whether Ph.D. or A.D.. If Tressel can raise a lot more money for the university, let him fill the job. I still feel that his transgressions-lyiing about tattoos fall below the level of things I need to worry about. As a graduate of Y.S.U. [1976], it didn't matter to me who was president of the univ. at the time. As I recall, we were against anybody over 30 yrs. old in those days. ?Remember??

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14girardguy(7 comments)posted 1 year, 7 months ago

Most junior and community colleges are superior to YSU. I've hired a couple of YSU grads and they are totally unprepared to enter the workforce. It does not matter who the President is until they begin to enact some sort of admission standards.

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15walter_sobchak(1910 comments)posted 1 year, 7 months ago

YSU is in institution of higher education and learning. It is not a job training center. Last time I checked, YSU does not graduate welders, electricians, or plumbers. But, they do graduate people with degrees in nursing, engineering, accounting, etc. that use their education to obtain a position in which training is an absolute necessity. As an engineering graduate, my first employer wouldn't let me do design work until I had a couple of years experience learning how things were done in industry. I had to obtain 4 years of engineering practice under other licensed engineers before I could even sit for my professional engineer's exam.

Now, as far as YSU's admission standards, they must absolutely be raised as their are too many students that need remedial work. They would be better served at EGCC. But, the criticism of the graduates of YSU is unwarranted. YSU is one of the best values for education in this state and nation. I was told this by one of my engineering employers 30 years ago and he had degrees in engineering from Carnegie-Mellon, Illinois and an MBa from NYU. The programs are accredited by their national bodies and that is what matters. Many undergrad classes are taught by full professors which is unheard of at major schools. My son graduated with a BA in Biology from YSU and is in the OSU Med school. When he is in his labs doing his research work, many of his fellow students ask him how he became so well-prepared. Simple, he tells them he went to THEE Youngstown State University! It amazes me how people in this area, especially the BOZO that writes this column, loves to sh!t on one of the jewels of the area every chance they get.

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16walter_sobchak(1910 comments)posted 1 year, 7 months ago

Other than a few spelling errors due to typo's and the use of a few colloquilisms, my grammar is OK as most of what you perceive to be errors are now accepted. And, I was educated by the Youngstown public schools and have two degrees from YSU. So, go ahead, take your shots. They mean so much coming from someone that can't get the spelling correct in their screen-name. Now, here's a grammatically correct sentence. Go and f*** yourself!

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17badbob50(4 comments)posted 1 year, 7 months ago

Jim Tressel should be coaching the Browns because the ncaa is crooked making millions off of college football.
It sounds like all of the Tressel haters are green eyed monsters,you all could NEVER be half the coach or man of Mr. Jim Tressel. Get a life you haters!!

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18Dane(1 comment)posted 1 year, 3 months ago

Kurtw, It is "sacred cows" and not "sacred cow's"

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