Busy spring schedule keeps YSU AD scrambling
By Brian Dzenis
Things are going to be busy at Youngstown State University for the next few weeks.
The WATTS will play host to the Horizon League indoor track championship, the swim team will go to Cleveland for the Horizon League tournament and the baseball and softball teams will be on the road.
The latter team will come home in the first week in March to finally play on the YSU Softball Complex’s new turf field.
For YSU Athletic Director Ron Strollo, that’s the usual grind for his athletic department.
“It always feels like a crazy time of the year no matter what part of the year you’re in,” Strollo said.
Strollo was at DiLucia’s Banquet Center in Warren Tuesday night as the featured speaker for the Warren Sports Hall of Fane’s annual membership meeting. He linked up with the group through YSU assistant athletic director Robb Schmidt, a Warren Harding graduate and trustee with the Hall of Fame.
“It’s Youngstown State, but I look at it as the Valley’s university,” Strollo said. “This is part of the Valley.”
While competition is in full swing, Strollo is looking ahead at the department’s projects for the year. One that will sit on the back burner for the time being is settling football coach Bo Pelini’s status.
By the end of February, Pelini will be in the final year of his four-year deal with the Penguins, which expires Feb. 28, 2019. It’s the same time Nebraska will be finished paying Pelini his $7.65 million buyout. Strollo says he and Pelini won’t talk about his future until “the time is right.
“I think he’s been great. Obviously, you’d like to have three straight playoff appearances, but anytime you have a new head coach, there’s a learning curve,” Strollo said. “It’s not only for the coaches, but the athletes and we saw that in his first year. We saw the benefits of that in his second year going to the National Championship game.
“Last year, we we’re really close. The injuries just piled up on us.”
He also gave the stamp of approval for first-year men’s basketball coach Jerrod Calhoun, who’s team is 7-20 with a 5-9 mark in Horizon League Play.
“[Calhoun] and his staff are working really hard and change is difficult,” Strollo said. “A lot of times you have to step back before you can step forward and I don’t think that’s unusual.”
Strollo and the athletic department are preparing to bid out the construction of a pressbox on the east side of Stambaugh Stadium. There’s more work to be done with some of YSU’s facilities west of Fifth Avenue with the money Sam and Caryn Covelli donated to the school last year. The hope is that money can help build an indoor tennis complex.