By Dan Hiner
Youngstown State University’s enrollment has seemed to plateau, and the YSU athletics department is investigating two new sports to draw female high school recruits.
President Jim Tressel confirmed YSU is investigating the potential additions of a women’s rowing team and a women’s lacrosse team.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to bring in more really good students and people to choose YSU for unique reasons,” Tressel said. “We’re in the midst of studying it, we are a little ways off from making any decisions, but they are two of the sports we are studying.”
The study of potential women’s lacrosse and rowing teams comes on the heels of Chelsea Gilliam being named the first head coach of the women’s bowling team, which was formed in March.
It’s no secret Tressel has made increasing enrollment at YSU a top priority since becoming president in July 2014. YSU Athletic Director Ron Strollo said the addition of new sports could increase future enrollment.
“Obviously our department has been challenged, probably just like every other department on campus, to figure out how to draw prospective students to campus,” Strollo said. “For us, one of those opportunities not only is to increase the roster sizes we are currently carrying, but also look to potentially add some programs that might attract students from outside our normal region.”
Strollo went on to say the idea of adding more sports has been discussed since Tressel came back to Youngstown.
Tressel briefly touched on the idea to the YSU Board of Trustees on Sept. 8. A formal proposal was not made, but a plan could be discussed during the Board of Trustees meeting on Dec. 1.
The topic was mentioned to the Board of Trustees a week after YSU announced the hiring of Chelsea Gilliam as the head coach of the newly founded YSU women’s bowling team.
Strollo said the university is not concerned with the potential new sports generating revenue from attendance of games or merchandise sales, but believes the university will profit from the added costs of athletes attending YSU.
“I guess we never looked at it in that fashion,” Strollo said. “Obviously the more students we have on campus, the better off financially it is. If you just look at the revenue and the expenses for each program, if you add in the tuition, fees and room and board they bring in, I’m sure all of our programs run a net profit for the university.”
Since a formal proposal hasn’t been made, the numbers for cost and home venues for each team are still being researched. Those figures could be discussed at the next Board of Trustees meeting.
The recent creation of new sports over the past seven months has been a result of the university trying to keep up Title IX — a federal law that prohibits federally funded universities from sexual discrimination based on the sports the university provides.
“They usually have outstanding students and obviously they are both women’s, which would help us in our Title IX compliance,” Tressel said.
Strollo wanted to reiterate that YSU has not formally announced the creation of the programs and there is no guarantee the proposal of the sports will be passed. However, other sports could be created in the future.
“It’s hard to say, we have a gender equity plan on campus,” Strollo said. “Every four or five years, I think, to keep up with federal law, we’re going to have to look into adding a sport. It’s a matter of time, whether that time is in the next one to three years or in the next 10 years. I think it would be likely we would add a sport or two.”