The University of Akron plans to hire former Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel to bring his apostolic skills to Northeast Ohio.
Tressel resigned from his Ohio State post last year in the face of National Collegiate Athletic Association accusations that he lied about his knowledge of NCAA violations by his players.
Tressel may teach a class or two in Akron, but that’s not why the school wants to hire him, said Luis Proenza, president of The University of Akron. They want to hire Tressel because he knows how to create a “college experience.”
Tressel’s new title at Akron will be Vice President of Strategic Engagement. Proenza said Tressel’s role will be to help build “partnerships” with businesses in and around Akron.
When we spoke with Proenza today, he pointed us toward this story in the Ohio State student newspaper:
Tressel was a coach who made a player the best person he could be. He was someone players could talk to about life on and off the field. He gave the OSU program an image of purity. It had the feel of an old-school family values operation.
The University of Akron has staked its future on the success of the Akron area. So the school wants to give local residents and business owners reasons to be excited about offering University of Akron students internships and jobs. The school needs to recruit businesspeople to work on joint economic development projects and contribute to fundraising efforts.
The OSU Lantern shows how Tressel knows how to create that kind of religion around a public university and get people to buy in:
When you supported the Buckeyes, you weren’t just supporting a program that won a lot of games. You were supporting a program that did things the right way and was successful. It went beyond winning and was part of the reason fans are so passionate about OSU football.
The position is a new one, created for Tressel, and wasn’t publicly posted. It comes with a $200,000 salary. The University of Akron Board of Trustees will vote on Tressel’s hiring at their March meeting.
Proenza said that Tressel’s hiring grew out of conversations between the two:
“When I learned that he really was looking for a different path for his future career and that path seemed to very much resonate with what we were trying to do for our students, we just started having conversations that revealed to both of us the synergy of our thinking.”
And what about those NCAA accusations? Proenza said:
“Number one, I haven’t seen anybody who has the kind of background in student success that Jim Tressel has. And, number two…It clearly was a mistake, it’s a mistake that he’s acknowledged and he’s apologized for and he’s ready to move beyond.”
“Everybody finds a way to move forward and really to do good things.”