Educator and Champion Football Coach
A native of Northeast Ohio, Tressel graduated from Berea High School in suburban Cleveland in 1971. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from Baldwin-Wallace College in 1975 and a master’s degree in Education from the University of Akron in 1977. He also received honorary degrees from YSU in 2001 and Baldwin-Wallace in 2003.
He previously was executive vice president for Student Success at the University of Akron, where he was charged with restructuring and leading the efforts of a newly created division dedicated to the academic and career success of students. Tressel’s areas of responsibility included recruitment and admissions, financial aid and career services, advising and adult/transfer services, the military services center and multicultural academic programs. He spent a great deal of time in the Northeast Ohio region, emphasizing the need for top-notch higher education, innovation and collaboration.
Prior to joining the University of Akron, Tressel was head football coach at Ohio State University from 2001 to 2010, where his teams won the national championship in 2002 and seven Big Ten championships and appeared in eight BCS post-season bowl games. As head football coach at YSU from 1986 to 2000, Tressel’s teams won four Division I-AA national championships. He also was executive director of Athletics at YSU from 1994 to 2000. Prior to YSU, he was an assistant football coach at Ohio State, Syracuse University, Miami University of Ohio and the University of Akron. In all of his coaching posts, Tressel also taught in the classroom to remain engaged with the student body.
Tressel has published two books: “The Winners Manual: For the Game of Life” (2008) and “Life Promises for Success” (2011). His lengthy list of awards includes the American Football Coaches Association National Coach of the Year in 1991, 1994 and 2002, the Eddie Robinson National Coach of the Year in 1994 and 2002, the Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year in 2002 and the Sporting News National Coach of the Year in 2002. At YSU, he received the Heritage Award in 2008 and was inducted into the YSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013. He has given hundreds of presentations and lectures across the country.
Tressel’s extensive involvement in fundraising and philanthropy includes participation in YSU campaigns for the Andrews Student Recreation and Wellness Center, the expansion of Stambaugh Stadium and the Watson and Tressel Training Site. In 2007, Frank and Norma Watson and Jim and Ellen Tressel donated a combined $1 million to the YSU Centennial Campaign to help fund the WATTS. He also was co-chair of the $110 million campaign for the renovation of Ohio State University’s William Oxley Thompson Library. Along with his university fundraising, Tressel has also been called upon to lead many campaigns for the entire community and its needs.
Tressel’s wife, Ellen, is a YSU graduate and an accomplished businesswoman and philanthropist who remains engaged in charitable causes and community organizations in cities where she and her husband have built careers and raised family, including Youngstown, Columbus and Akron. She began her own financial career in her family’s business in Youngstown and served 17 years at Butler, Wick and Co.