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Penguins taking steps to hire new coach

Ron Strollo seems more like a research assistant than an athletic director these days.

The Youngstown State University Director of Athletics has spent a good portion of his time investigating candidates for the men’s basketball coaching vacancy. He’s keeping YSU President Jim Tressel abreast of all the conversations he has had with potential candidates and investigating their backgrounds.

Strollo is the point for all the information collected. He’s relying on other people in the athletic department to see if they might know someone who might know someone qualified for the opening.

The job has been officially posted for more than a week and calls for a candidate to have six years of successful collegiate coaching and recruiting experience at the NCAA Division I or II level, along with other facets of the job consistent with other men’s basketball mentors.

“I’ll make a recommendation based upon all that research to our president,” Strollo said.

There’s a search committee in place with a couple of former and current YSU faculty members — Gary Swegan, Dan Suchora and Jeff Tyus. Swegan is YSU’s Associate Vice President for Enrollment Planning and Management. Suchora retired in 2012 as professor and chair of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department. Also, he and his wife, Pat, have created a scholarship to enhance the YSU Athletics Scholarship Endowment Fund. Tyus is an assistant professor in the Department of Communications.

Strollo said he’d like to have a coach in place by April 1-15, but added if the right candidate is there — YSU will move faster.

The returning Penguins players have been without a head coach the last couple of weeks.

“Sometimes things can happen quick and you might get someone that is ready to roll,” Strollo said. “The quicker we can do it, the better because we’ve got a locker room full of kids, wondering what their future is. We have some recruiting to do.

“We’re going to move along as fast as we can, while still feeling we’re making the best decision we can make.”

One key question is: How much is the next coach’s salary? YSU paid John Robic just less than $100,000 in 1999. Jerry Slocum retired earlier this month with a base salary slightly more than $140,000.

Here are some other salaries of other Horizon League coaches:

¯ Wright State’s first-year coach Scott Nagy started with $500,000, according to the Dayton Daily News;

¯ The Tennessean said current Vanderbilt coach Bryce Drew, who signed a seven-year deal in 2013, made $340,958 at Valparaiso, according to tax returns. Since then, Drew took over the Commodores program with his former assistant Matt Lottich being promoted last season. The base salary is unknown due to Valparaiso being a private university, which is likely lower than the aforementioned amount;

¯ The Green Bay Press Gazette stated when coach Linc Darner took over the Green Bay Phoenix program in 2015, he had a $230,000 base salary;

¯ The University of Illinois Board of Trustees Meeting notes from September 2015 said UIC coach Steve McClain started around $375,000;

¯ New coach LaVall Jordan at Milwaukee started at $350,000, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel;

¯ Another first-year coach, Detroit’s Bacari Alexander, had a starting salary between $450,000-475,000, according to the Detroit Free Press;

¯ Gary Waters, who retired the same time Slocum did in early March, had a base salary of $340,000 with a seven-year contract extension in 2012, according to the News Herald in Willoughby;

¯ According to a Northern Kentucky Staff Congress event in October 2015, Norse second-year coach John Brannan started with a salary of $190,000.

Strollo knows YSU needs to be more competitive with its pay, but a set amount has not been determined.

“We’re going to have to be more competitive,” he said. “It’s going to depend on who the ultimate candidate is.”

For now, Strollo is still researching who the Penguins next men’s basketball coach is going to be.

jvargo@tribtoday.com

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