Strollo discusses changes at Youngstown State
BEAVER TOWNSHIP — Ron Strollo cannot remember a busier time during his 19-year tenure as Youngstown State director of athletics.
Now in his 24th year overall at his alma mater — he served as business manager for five years before assuming his current role — his fall sports teams are off to good starts, and last weekend the Penguin football team moved to 2-0 with a 54-28 win over Howard, unveiling the new $3 million, state-of-the-art, Don Constantini Multi-Media Center.
Speaking to the Curbstone Coaches during Monday’s initial weekly gathering at Avion Banquet Center, Strollo said it’s a fun and exciting time on the Penguin campus.
“With our fall teams currently competing, winter sports preparing for their seasons and the many projects underway, it’s a busy yet fun time for YSU athletics,” Strollo said. “We’ll bring back men’s swimming this winter, women’s lacrosse will make its varsity debut in the spring of 2021, while facility upgrades, as well as facility additions continue to make YSU an attraction for incoming student-athletes.”
The Don Constantini Multi-Media Center, several years in the making and located on the east side of Stambaugh Stadium’s stands, houses home and visiting coaches and radio-TV talent, scoreboard-game day operations and instant replay for officials.
The sports information and athletics communications staffs have moved into the facility, game-day media is now housed there with a “Classroom of the Future,” complete with high-end technology available for students in the school’s sports broadcasting curriculum.
“The facility is multi-purpose, absolutely gorgeous and one of the very best nationwide,” Strollo added. “Its completion has also allowed us to add four more private suites on the West side of the stands, which will generate $85,000 yearly.”
Under Strollo’s direction, YSU has won 45 Horizon League championships (30 over the past six academic years) while consistently ranking near the top in the McCafferty Trophy (the Horizon League’s annual all-sports award).
Soon to be completed this fall will be Cafaro Field, located across the freeway from the WATTS which will house campus recreation and intramurals as well as its soccer and lacrosse teams. It will also serve as a supplemental field for football.
“The foundation has already been poured for our new indoor tennis facility, located right off the East side of Belmont Avenue and scheduled to open at the end of our calendar year and around the Christmas holiday,” he said. “The facility will replace the 10 outdoor courts that we lost when we built a parking area behind the multi-media center.
“That parking area will also serve Beeghly Center and WATTS as well.”
Locker room upgrades for current sports, as well as locker room facilities for the lacrosse and men’s swimming programs, continue to take place as Strollo looks at doubling the roster size of his cross-country teams by 2021.
“We currently have 12 athletes on our men’s and women’s cross-country teams, will expand that to 18 on each squad this year and increase that to 24 for each team in 2020,” Strollo noted. “When all is said and done, we’ll have over 500 student-athletes, which will be second only to Ohio State in the state. The reason for the expansion is to attract more students outside of our demographic area to our campus.”
Expectations remain high for both basketball teams and women’s head coach John Barnes has had his contract extended through 2023-24.
Strollo also serves as executive director of the Penguin Club, the athletics fundraising arm and under his direction has led them to unprecedented growth in membership revenue and endowed scholarships.
It’s basketball Courtside Coaches Club and football Gridiron Club membership revenues have increased during his tenure as AD, the number of endowed scholarships rose from 18 to 143 and the value of all endowed scholarships increased from $680,000 to more than $9 million.
The Curbstone Coaches presented Strollo with a check for $2,000 as part of their annual scholarship endowment commitment.
This week will also be extraordinarily busy for Strollo and staff as they play host to the San Francisco 49ers, who are spending the week in Youngstown before heading to Cincinnati on Sunday to take on the Bengals. YSU is also hosting former Penguin and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and ESPN pro football analyst Ron Jaworski.
“The 49ers will work out at Stambaugh Stadium and the WATTS, and will use our weight room and training facilities,” Strollo said. “Ron Jaworski comes in on Friday, will spend the weekend with us, be here for our football game with Duquesne on Saturday and speak to our sports broadcasting classes.
“The Blake Shelton concert is expected to draw a huge crowd on Sept. 21 and I really don’t know if it has been any busier during my time on campus.”
With 20 varsity sports currently offered (nine men’s and 11 women’s) and lacrosse soon to make it 21, YSU student-athletes continue to excel in the classroom where they sport a 3.20 accumulative grade point average.
Nationally, its women’s swimming, women’s basketball and volleyball teams are ranked in the top-10 academically in the nation.
Next Monday, Brian Shrum, YSU women’s soccer coach, will serve as guest speaker.