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Jim Tressel '75 named to 91ߣƵ University Board of Trustees

One of BW's most prominent graduates comes full circle to offer his higher education expertise in support of his alma mater.

Jim Tressel '75 (left) at a BW alumni gathering with Ellen Zegarra, BW VP for Philanthropy, (middle) and Steve Thompson, BW Athletics Director (right)
Jim Tressel '75 (left) at a BW alumni gathering with Ellen Zegarra, BW VP for Philanthropy, (middle) and Steve Thompson, BW Athletics Director (right)

91ߣƵ University alumnus Jim Tressel '75, the former president of Youngstown State University and a national college football coaching legend, is joining the BW Board of Trustees.

"We are proud and happy to welcome the wise counsel of one of BW's most accomplished alumni," said BW Board Chair Lee Thomas. "We're grateful for the wealth of experience Jim brings to his alma mater as we begin to write the next chapter in BW's 179-year history."

"BW has a diverse and talented board," Thomas continued. "But Jim represents a rare opportunity to add the voice of an experienced university president, which is especially valuable as we navigate a challenging environment for all of higher education." 

Illustrious career

Jim TresselTressel retired after nearly a decade as YSU president in 2023 after transitioning from coaching to higher education leadership roles. At Youngstown State, he is credited with improving graduation rates, quadrupling the size of the honors college, raising $150 million in support, building strong business ties and transforming campus housing.

His earlier coaching career started as a graduate assistant at The University of Akron, where he earned his master's degree. Eventually, he rose to national prominence in 15 seasons as head football coach at Youngstown State University, where he dominated Division I-AA football, and 10 years as head coach at The Ohio State University, where he led the Buckeyes to a national championship and multiple Big Ten titles.

The biography describes Tressel as "one of the greatest coaches in the history of the state of Ohio," bringing five national titles to the state and becoming the only head coach to win a national title at both levels of Division I college football."

BW beginnings

Jim and Lee Tressel in 2974
Jim (left) and Lee Tressel (right) in 1974.

As a BW student, Tressel was quarterback for the Yellow Jacket football team under his father, College Football Hall of Fame Coach Lee Tressel '48, playing on a home field that would later be renamed for his dad. His mom, Eloise, famously led cheers in the stands.

Tressel graduated from BW in 1975 with a degree in education.

"Thanks to BW ­— especially the faculty, staff, and my classmates — who provided me the opportunity for a great education," Tressel says. "Due to the exceptional preparation at BW, I was blessed to enjoy a 47-year career in higher education. As I accept the honor of serving on the BW Board, I am certain that my mom and dad would be proud that I seek to serve their beloved Yellow Jackets."

Family legacy

Dick, Dave and Jim Tressel
The Tressel brothers at a groundbreaking event for Tressel Field, named in honor of their father. Left to right, Dick Tressel '70, Dave Tressel '73 and Jim Tressel '75.

While coaching brought him fame, following family values in all his career roles brought him satisfaction. 

In a , Tressel recalled, "Both my mom and dad were all about education first and athletics second. They were all about helping young people grow and establish themselves in productive careers … It followed naturally that in watching the personal satisfaction that it brought to them, that the same things became the things we would prize, too."

Tressel echoed that sentiment in a , talking about emulating his father's coaching and leadership styles.

"I knew from the time I was little that he cared about his players way beyond the football. He cared about them as people. He cared about them when they became fathers, husbands, teachers, attorneys or doctors. And he worked extremely hard. If you care a lot and work hard, that's a good start."

Now, Tressel will put those values of caring and hard work, along with deep higher education experience, to work for another generation of students at BW.

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