Is It Time for Tressel?

After the announcement that Youngstown State University president Randy Dunn would take the same job at Southern Illinois University Carbondale after his 180-day resignation period, the YSU community was left scrambling for an answer.

Why did he take the job after only seven months at YSU? Why did no one in Youngstown know that he had even been contacted? Will he immediately leave YSU after Monday’s emergency Board of Trustees meeting?

Those questions were answered after the meeting in a press conference. But there was still one glaring question that Dunn and chairman of the Board Sudershan Garg couldn’t answer: who will be YSU’s next president?

Wednesday morning, it was reported that Congressman Tim Ryan was drafting a letter to support former YSU football coach and five-time National Champion — four at YSU and one at the Ohio State University — Jim Tressel as the university’s ninth president.

Right now, Tressel is the executive vice president for Student Success at the University of Akron, a title he has held since December. Some see the job as preparing Tressel for presidential candidacy at Akron once Luis Proenza retires in June.

When reported that Tressel could be the next president at Akron, all the former coach had to say was, “I’ve not had time to think about it.”

And now, all Tressel has said so far about the YSU presidency is that he’s happy with his job at Akron.

There are worse choices for president than Tressel. He would be a face for the university and someone who would be an absolute hit with existing and potential donors. No one can deny the amount of publicity that hiring Tressel would generate for the university. It would catch the eye of prospective students, local media — perhaps even national media — and maybe even some of Tressel’s connections at Ohio State.

But it is important to keep in mind that, while there is an upside to hiring Tressel, there are also some possible shortcomings.

He has worked as an administrator at Akron since February 2012, but beyond that, almost all of his experience comes from the football field. That isn’t to say that Tressel is at disadvantage, but other candidates would have more experience dealing with the day-to-day operations of a university. While Tressel does deal with departments like admissions, academic support and financial aid reporting to him at Akron, the fact that he has only held this particular position since December raises the question of how well he can run an entire university.

Ultimately, as many presidential candidates as possible need to be evaluated in the wake of Dunn’s departure. Tressel, at the very least, deserves to be considered somewhere along the line. But should a better candidate exist — that is the candidate that should be chosen. Jim Tressel could turn out to be a phenomenal president, but all options need to be carefully considered.

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