YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The YSU Athletic Department was forced to make some tough decisions this summer but not at the expense of losing athletic programs.
In fact, behind Ohio State, Youngstown State is the second largest athletic program numbers-wise in Ohio.
“This time has allowed all of us to figure out what’s really important,” said Ron Strollo, Athletic Director at YSU for the past 19 years.
The YSU athletic department cut 22 positions within the last month, dropping nearly two million dollars from the budget. Despite the cuts, all 21 sports remain intact, including recent additions with women’s lacrosse and men’s swimming, along with doubling the men’s and women’s cross country rosters.
The additions will bring 100 new student-athletes to campus this fall. Strollo said it’s part of an enrollment initiative put in place long before the pandemic.
“These are all student-athletes that bring diversity to your campus. You know, they’re living on your campus, they’re spending money in the food and beverage restaurants on campus, they’re doing very well academically,” Strollo said.
Strollo said about a third of their budget is salaries and another third goes to scholarships. Ultimately, the programs remained intact because they didn’t want to affect enrollment. Another big project this summer is new turf for the football field. With all the current cuts, there’s been some backlash for doing it now. Strollo said the money for that project has been set aside for over nine years since it was last renewed.
“We had to wait, is this something that we need to do this year or can we wait to do it next year?” said Strollo. “We had the money set aside to do it now and we delayed it as well. At first, we weren’t sure if we were going to have a football season, which right now it looks like that’s going to happen.”
Back on June 1st, athletes were allowed to resume voluntary workouts on campus. Among those who returned were 45 football players. In the coming weeks, Strollo hopes to add to that number significantly.
A Division 1 council meeting next Wednesday (June 17th) will provide a lot more answers. But for now, Strollo remains optimistic for the fall.
“As these kids start coming back and need food and housing, it’s provided an opportunity for the rest of campus to start testing the process with our student-athletes,” said Strollo. “If we keep putting their needs first, I think we’ll fare well.”