|Title:||Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics|
|Alma Mater:||Youngstown State, 1993|
Now in his 19th year as Executive Director of Intercollegiate Athletics and 24th 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 30 Horizon League championships during the last six academic years, as well as six 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 45 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 30 of those crowns.
Youngstown State led the Horizon League with five league championships and the Penguins finished fourth in the Horizon League McCafferty Cup Standings in 2018-19. The men’s cross country team won its second championship in three seasons while the men’s and women’s track field teams swept both the indoor and outdoor track and field titles. During the outdoor championships, the men’s program posted a league-record 311.5 points while the women’s team score of 251 was one point shy of tying the league mark. It also marked the sixth straight outdoor championship for the women’s program, which is a Horizon League record. At the Horizon League Indoor Track & Field Championships held at the Watson and Tressel Training Site, the men’s team won the title by 110 points, and the women won by 49.5.
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 while the men’s team won the indoor title.
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.
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 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 women’s cross country 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 of the $3-million The Don Constantini Multimedia Center was completed in September of 2019. The new Stambaugh Stadium feature 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. Cafaro Field, a multi-purpose turf field which will be utilized mainly by YSU intramural and club teams, and a new parking lot located behind the Constantini Multimedia Center that will be designated for VIP tailgating at football games and priority parking for YSU basketball games are slated for completion in September of 2019. In addition, a $3-million indoor tennis facility is expected to be completed by December 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.
Since 2015, Youngstown State has increased its number of intercollegiate sports from 18 to 21. YSU added women’s bowling in 2015, men’s swimming and diving in 2019-20, and women’s lacrosse will begin competition in 2020-21. The men’s and women’s cross country rosters are also expanding further increasing competitive opportunities for student-athletes.
Academically, the Penguins have posted the program’s top three semester grade point-averages over the last three semesters. YSU student-athletes set a school record with a 3.19 GPA at the end of the Spring 2019 semester. YSU’s student-athletes posted a 3.17 at the end of Spring 2018, which was a record at the time, and they had another 3.17 at the end of the fall. Out of 395 student-athletes, 255 (65 percent) recorded a cumulative grade-point average higher than 3.0.
Individually, 25 student-athletes were named academic all-conference. Two Penguins – Armand Dellovade in football and Abby Jones in indoor track and field – were named academic all-conference for the third straight year. Five YSU student-athletes – women’s basketball players Sarah Cash, Mary Dunn and Melinda Trimmer; women’s tennis player Imaan Hassim and Jones - earned Google Cloud Academic All-District accolades. That was the most at YSU since 2010-11 and tied for the third-most in department history.
Dunn and Jones were also Google Cloud Academic All-America Third-Team selections.
There were 101 Penguins who made the Horizon League Academic Honor Roll in the fall and 107 earned a spot in the spring, 16 YSU football players earned the Missouri Valley Football Conference’s Commissioner’s Award and 63 were named to the MVFC Academic Honor Roll for 2016.
In the last 15 straight semesters and 18 of the last 19 semesters since January 2010, YSU student-athletes have maintained a 3.00-GPA or better.
Sixteen student-athletes have captured 16 CoSIDA Academic All-America accolades since 2001 while a total of 67 have been named to Academic All-District teams in the past 18 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 nearly 70 percent from seven years ago while Football Gridiron Club membership revenues increased by 34 percent during the same time.
During his tenure as Athletics Director, the number of endowed scholarships has risen from 18 to 143, and the value of all endowed scholarships increased from $680,000 to more than $9 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 and continues to serve on the 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 former men’s basketball player, and Rachel, a senior 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.