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Jim Tressel for Youngstown State president?

By Bertram de Souza (Contact)

Published October 17, 2009

There are whispers that Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel, one of the most popular Mahoning Valley residents when he coached at Youngstown State University, has been nominated for president of YSU. The nomination was contained in a letter sent to the presidential search committee by a veteran faculty member who did not consult with Tressel before doing so.

Tressel reportedly has become aware that his name has been submitted, but had not withdrawn it from consideration as of late last week. However, it is believed that he is not currently interested in leaving one of the most glorified college coaching positions in the nation.

On the other hand, with Ohio State's loss to Purdue Saturday, the discontent among rabid Buckeye fans will continue grow. Whether that has any bearing on Tressel's decision about his future is anybody's guess. But what is known is that once the letter of nomination became a topic of discussion among the coach's many friends in the Valley, support for his candidacy began to grow.

Old university hands — a nice way of saying members of YSU's old guard — believe that having Tressel at the helm would be a feather in the institution's cap. His national reputation would certainly be a positive in terms of fund raising, the thinking goes.

On the other hand, Tressel does not have strong academic credentials, which many contend is absolutely necessary for the next president — the current president, Dr. David Sweet, will be leaving when his contract expires on July 1 — because YSU is under pressure from Chancellor of Higher Education Eric Fingerhut to justify its existence as a university.

Fingerhut has made it clear that Youngstown State must be able to identify areas of study that set it apart from all the other state universities and colleges.

Nonetheless, the mere fact that Tressel's name is even being mentioned for the presidency shows just how highly regarded he still is in the Mahoning Valley.


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