YOUNGSTOWN - Former national champion football coach James P. Tressel caught the presidential pass Friday morning from the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees.
YSU announced that it unanimously agreed Friday morning to make the offer, and that Tressel verbally committed to accept.
Tressel was not at the trustees meeting. However, he posted a tweet shortly afterward indicating his likelihood to accept: "Excited about the opportunity at YSU! It's all about student success. Going to miss all the wonderful Zips at UA."
The University of Akron, where Tressel is the executive vice president for Student Success, announced Thursday that it chose Scott Scarborough of the University of Toledo for its next president. Tressel was a top three candidate for president at both the Akron and Youngstown universities.
"After fully examining each and every candidate and reviewing the input from hundreds of individuals across the campus and the community, the board of trustees believes Mr. Tressel is the right individual at the right time to lead Youngstown State University," board chairman Sudershan Garg said in a prepared statement.
"Mr. Tressel has the personality and leadership skills, in addition to widespread community support, to dramatically raise YSU's profile and prominence across Ohio and the nation," Garg said.
Tressel issued a statement that he and his family "would like to thank Dr. Garg and the Youngstown State University Board of Trustees for the confidence they have demonstrated in us by their actions today.
"We are honored and privileged to accept the board's offer, and we are humbled by this opportunity to return to the area and school that we deeply love. We look forward to working with the board, the faculty, staff, students and the entire Mahoning Valley community to build on what has been more than a century of service and success at the university."
Tressel said in the prepared statement that he would be make no further comments until Monday evening, when he and his wife, Ellen, are scheduled for a news conference at about 7 p.m. in the Ohio Room, on the second floor of the Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University.
YSU spokesman Ron Cole confirmed that contract negotiations were under way, and will continue at 6 p.m. Monday with Tressel.
Trustees announced they authorized Garg and Vice Chairman John Jakubek to negotiate an employment contract with Tressel. Garg emphasized that the appointment is not final until contract terms can be reached.
Meanwhile, YSU's four union presidents issued their own joint statement welcoming Tressel to the university:
"We expect that he will be an excellent ambassador and an effective fundraiser for the university. We believe he has an understanding of the past, is in a position to evaluate the present, and will strive to create a future that brings us together as a well functioning, nationally recognized urban research institution. We look forward to the opportunity to work with Mr. Tressel in what we hope will be an exciting new beginning for YSU."
The community rallied in support of the university's choice for its ninth leader even before he was chosen. U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Howland, actively endorsed Tressel and later remarked in a statement, "This is a great day for the Mahoning Valley and northeast Ohio."
Tom Humphries, president and CEO of the Regional Chamber, said, "I believe they chose a person who will provide outstanding leadership to the university and will work in a united front with other Mahoning Valley business and community leaders to improve university's performance, our students' educational attainment and help grow our economy.
"I stand ready to work with Jim to propel our Valley forward in the months and years ahead," Humphries said.
Tressel, former head football coach at YSU - where he won four national championships - as well as at The Ohio State University - where he won another national championship - would succeed Randy J. Dunn, who resigned in March to become president of Southern Illinois University.
The board voted to offer the position to Tressel after a national search. The other two finalists were Mary Cullinan, president of Southern Oregon University, and Gary L. Miller, chancellor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. All three candidates toured YSU this week.