|Title:||Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics|
|Alma Mater:||Youngstown State, 1993|
Now in his 18th year as Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and 23rd as a member of the athletic department, former Penguins student-athlete Ron Strollo has worked diligently to ensure that today's student-athletes have the support system in place to succeed not only at Youngstown State, but also in their future.
As evidenced by 25 Horizon League championships during the last five academic years, as well as five straight top five finishes in the McCafferty Trophy (the Horizon League’s all-sports award) standings, opening of new facilities, school-record breaking performances, all-time high fundraising levels and numerous academic honors, his vision for successful broad-based programs and providing student-athletes tools to succeed on and off the playing fields is coming to fruition.
YSU has won 40 Horizon League titles while winning consecutive Gateway Football Conference (now the Missouri Valley Football Conference) championships in 2005 and 2006 during Strollo’s tenure. Since November of 2013, YSU has won 25 of those crowns.
During the 2017-18 school year, the Penguins women’s tennis team continued its dominance by winning its fifth straight Horizon League Championship and earned a berth to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season. The women’s track and field team swept the indoor and outdoor track and field championships. The Penguins won the indoor title for the fourth time in the last five years, and they captured the outdoor championship for the fifth straight year. It is the first time in school and Horizon League history the same program won five consecutive women's titles. The men’s track and field team won the Horizon League Indoor Track and Field Championships for the third straight year.
The 2016-17 season was arguably the best overall campaign during Strollo’s tenure. The Penguins tied a school-mark with six Horizon League championships, the YSU women won the Horizon League’s McCafferty Trophy for the first time and Youngstown State finished second in the overall standings. The football team advanced to the 2016 NCAA Division I National Championship Game, and YSU finished 17th in the Capital One Cup Men’s Standings. In its inaugural season, the women’s bowling program ended the year ranked 25th in the final National Tenpin Coaches Association Top 25 poll. The men's track and field program won the Triple Crown - Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor - for the first time since joining the Horizon League. It was the first Horizon League Cross Country title for the school.
The Penguins accumulated four Horizon League Championships in 2015-16 in men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, women’s outdoor track and field and women’s tennis. It marked the women’s tennis program’s and the women’s outdoor track and field team’s third straight Horizon League titles, and the first time the men’s track and field team swept the indoor and outdoor championships.
In 2014-15, the Penguins captured five Horizon League Championships in women’s cross country, women’s tennis, women’s indoor track and field, women’s outdoor track and field and women’s golf. It marked the second straight championships for the cross country, track and field teams and the women’s tennis program.
The Penguins won a Horizon League-best six championships during the 2013-14 academic year, including baseball, women’s cross country, women’s tennis, women’s indoor and outdoor track and field, and men’s outdoor track and field. The baseball team earned a trip to the NCAA Regional at Indiana and picked up the program’s first NCAA victory with a 5-2 win over Indiana State.
Always a firm believer that state-of-the-art facilities attract quality coaches and student-athletes, construction will start in 2018-19 on a $3-million east side press box thanks to the benevolence of Don Constantini. The Don Constantini Multimedia Center will house an expanded press box for media, television talent and replay, home and visiting coaches and radio, and a classroom for students in the Sports Broadcasting curriculum. In addition, a $3-million indoor tennis facility and construction of an additional turf field with lights and new parking lot behind the Constantini Center are all to be completed by August 2019.
Other recent significant facility upgrades during Strollo’s tenure include:
- $2-million in renovations to the Beeghly Natatorium, which featured a new scoreboard, deck, starting blocks and timing pads in 2017-18.
- $1.1-million in improvements to Stambaugh Stadium including high definition videoboard and scoreboards, and Musco Lighting in 2015-16.
- $800K renovation of the Beeghly Center Lobby in 2014-15.
- Completion of the $4.4-million West of Fifth Project that included Farmers National Bank Field (Soccer and Track and Field) and the YSU Softball Field in the 2013-14 school year.
- The $12.3-million Watson and Tressel Training Site (WATTS) opened in 2011-12.
Strollo also led an effort to renovate every locker room, weight room and coaches’ offices, replaced surfaces, lights and scoreboards in both the Beeghly Center and Stambaugh Stadium.
Academically, the Penguins continued a standard of excellence in the classroom, boasting an impressive 3.17 grade-point average at the end of the 2018 spring semester. Out of 377 student-athletes, 238 (63 percent) recorded a cumulative grade-point average higher than 3.0. Youngstown State had at least 30 Academic All-Horizon League selections twice in the last five years. Prior 2013-14, YSU had not had more than 29 Academic All-Horizon League picks and had averaged 23 selections in the first 12 years in the conference.
There were 95 Penguins who made the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll in the fall and 97 earned a spot in the spring, 16 YSU football players earned the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s Commissioner’s Award and 43 were named to the MVFC Academic Honor Roll for 2016.
In the last 13 straight semesters and 16 of the last 17 semesters since January 2010, YSU student-athletes have maintained a 3.00-GPA or better.
Fourteen student-athletes have captured 16 CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades since 2001 while a total of 62 have been named to Academic All-District teams in the past 17 years.
As Executive Director of the Penguin Club, Youngstown State athletics’ fundraising arm, Strollo led the development group to unprecedented growth in membership revenue and endowed scholarships.
Basketball Courtside Coaches Club membership revenues are up 70 percent from eight years ago while Football Gridiron Club membership revenues increased by 38 percent during the same time.
During his tenure as Athletics Director, the number of endowed scholarships has risen from 19 to 152, and the value of all endowed scholarships increased from $1 million to more than $8 million.
His solid reputation has landed him on prominent regional and national committees. He has served in various capacities with the Horizon League, including chair of the strategic planning committee, chair of the executive council, chair of the finance committee, chair of the television committee, and liaison for men’s basketball. He served on the NCAA Division I Football Championship Selection Committee; was on the NCAA Division I Football Issues Committee; served as the Central Region Chair of the NCAA Regional Advisory Committee and as the president of the FCS Athletic Directors Association. He also served four years on the NCAA Championship and Competition Cabinet. Prior to the 2015 season, he was chosen to be a member of the newly formed NCAA Football Competition Committee.
Strollo returned to his alma mater in 1996 as athletic business manager. In March 2000, he was named the school's Associate Executive Director of Athletics. In his short time in that capacity, he helped spearhead the transition into the Horizon League. He succeeded current YSU President James P. Tressel as Executive Director of Athletics in July of 2001, which was YSU’s first year of competition in the Horizon League.
He has strong ties to the local community and to the athletic department. He is currently serving as a member of the Board of Trustees for The Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. He grew up in nearby Austintown, graduated from Fitch High School and was inducted into the Austintown Fitch Athletics Hall of Fame in 2017. He played football for YSU from 1988 through 1991 for Coach Tressel and was named captain and offensive player of the year of the first National Championship team in 1991. He earned his bachelor's degree in accounting from Youngstown State in June, 1993. He worked for three years at Hill Barth & King in Youngstown where he became a CPA.
Ron and his wife, Nicole Kent-Strollo, reside in Austintown with their two children, Ryan, a 2018 YSU graduate and three-year letterwinner on the YSU men’s basketball team, and Rachel, a junior at YSU. Nicole, a former YSU student-athlete who competed in track and cross country from 1989 through 1993, is YSU’s Director of Student Outreach and Support as well as an assistant cross country/track and field coach for the Penguins.