Former Youngstown State University and The Ohio State University football coach Jim Tressel is among 19 applicants for the position of president of the University of Akron, according to details posted Friday on the university's website.
The news comes amid a chorus of area politicians, business leaders and officials voicing their support for Tressel becoming YSU's next president.
Friday evening, YSU trustees Chairman Dr. Sudershan Garg told the Tribune Chronicle that he was not surprised Tressel had applied for the UA president's job. "We've been hearing a rumor that he might be a candidate for that position.''
Tressel has not responded to requests for comment other than one published report that he is happy with his job at the University of Akron.
Members of YSU's Board of Trustees have said they would still encourage Tressel to apply for the YSU vacancy.
"Definitely, we still think he's a great candidate," Garg said.
Garg also noted that the search for a new president at YSU was never about focusing in on one or two candidates, but getting as many qualified applicants as possible.
"We want to give everybody a chance and we are conducting it in an open and honest way," he said. "Hopefully, we can find several suitable candidates and, if he were to apply, Jim Tressel will be given due consideration."
Tressel originally sent a letter of nomination proposing that he take over as UA's interim president, but a month later, he submitted his application for president. His most recent letter, dated Feb. 25, states, "I believe I can be of great service to the UA family of students, faculty, alumni, employees and the surrounding communities by implementing all that the Board of Trustees has already entrusted in me as executive vice president."
Tressel states in his letter of application that he believes UA is at a crossroads that "an external candidate may not be able to competitively navigate," and that the college needs "more than a leader who can hit the ground running.
"Put simply, I believe I am the right leader for this time," he states.
Trumbull County commissioner Dan Polivka said Friday, "I think the YSU board should not leave any rock unturned, and if they're interested, they should make the appropriate contacts."
County Commissioner Frank Fuda said, "He's a people person, he's been very successful in everything he's done, really, as a coach and as a person.''
Commissioner Paul Heltzel said, ''I wish him all the best if he is chosen president at the University of Akron. If he is not, I am sure the door will still be open at Youngstown State University. Either institution would be lucky to have him.''
Last month, U.S. Rep. Timothy J. Ryan, D-Howland, pitching the idea along with other area leaders, said, ''This would be a gigantic move on the part of the YSU Board of Trustees, and certainly it would take YSU to the next level.''
Friday was former YSU president Randy Dunn's last day. He resigned last month after taking office in July to become president of Southern Illinois University.
Initially, his three-year contract called for him to stay on as president until Aug. 16 in order to fulfill his required 180-day notice of resignation, but during a meeting with trustees, it was decided he would vacate the position five months early.
Garg said the university was ready to move on.
Tressel holds a master's degree in education from the University of Akron and a bachelor's degree in education from Baldwin-Wallace College. He served as YSU's head football coach from 1986 to 2000, the last six years of which he also served as director of athletics. He won four NCAA National Championships at YSU.
In 2001 he became head football coach for The Ohio State University, filling that role for 10 years, and winning Bowl Championship Series National Championship in 2002.
He has served as executive vice president for UA since 2012.