At the ninth annual Youngstown State University Penguin Club Scholarship Ring Dinner, YSU was proud to honor a man who dedicated his life to Youngstown State athletics and its student-athletes. Former head basketball and baseball coach Dom Rosselli was honored as the 1999 co- Penguin of the Year along with Hall of Fame pitcher Steve Bartolin.
The school's winningest basketball and baseball coach, Rosselli guided Youngstown State's basketball and baseball teams for 38 and 31 years, respectively. Rosselli is the only coach in the 70-year history of Youngstown State intercollegiate athletics to accumulate more than 1,000 career victories for the Red and White.
Rosselli was a fixture on the basketball bench from 1940-41 to 1982-83. He nurtured a program from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) to NCAA Division II and then to Division I. He was also instrumental in Youngstown State's rise as an independent to conference play, first in the original Mid-Continent Conference on the Division II level and the Ohio Valley Conference in Division I.
In his 40 years, Rosselli compiled a career record of 600-393 for a .604 winning percentage. He led his teams to eight 20-win seasons, including a 24-3 mark with an .889 winning percentage in 1963-64. Both are still school records for most wins and highest winning percentage in a season.
When he retired following the 1982 season, he was ranked 10th in NCAA history in lifetime collegiate victories. He recorded the second-most wins in NCAA Division II history in coaching 39 seasons.
During the 1956-57 season, Rosselli guided the Penguins to a 23-4 mark and an appearance in the NAIA Quarterfinals as the Penguins lost to Southeastern Oklahoma, 69-65. The following season, in 1957-58, Youngstown State finished 23-7 and advanced to the third round of the NAIA National Tournament before losing to Western Illinois, 70-67. For the third time in as many seasons, Rosselli and the Penguins made an appearance in the NAIA National Tournament after a 19-9 mark in 1958-59. YSU defeated Baldwin Wallace, 97-77, in the championship game of the NAIA Ohio District and Northern (S.D.) State, 85-76, in the first round of the NAIA National Tournament. In the second round, the Penguins lost to Tennessee A&I State, 89-80. Members of those NAIA tournament teams included Youngstown State Hall of Fame members Bob Atterholt, Tony Knott, Herb Lake, Charles Moore, and Mickey Yugovich.
He coached the Penguins for two seasons before World War II duty as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force took him off the court and overseas.
Upon his return from the war, Rosselli was very involved in YSU athletics. Rosselli returned to full-time duty on the basketball court as soon as he returned from the war.
He was an assistant coach on the football team before the war and when he returned in 1946 he returned to his assistant's position until 1963. He took over the Penguin baseball program and was the coach from 1948-50. In 1958, he was back with the Penguin baseball team and for the next 24 years was a fixture in the dugout.
In the spring of 1948, Rosselli became the first baseball coach in Youngstown State history and accumulated a 31-year career record of 490-314. After three seasons, the baseball program was discontinued, but baseball was reinstated in 1958 and Rosselli led the Penguins to an 11-6 record and the NAIA District 22 championship. YSU repeated as district champions in 1959 with a 10-6 mark.
From 1969 to 1977, Rosselli led the Penguins to nine consecutive 20-win seasons, including a 26-8 record and an appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament in 1977. During that nine-year span, the Penguins amassed a record of 199-101 for a winning percentage of .663. In 1979, Rosselli recorded his 10th 20-win season with a 21-5 mark and collected his 11th and final 20- win campaign in 1982 with a 23-14 record.
Rosselli guided former major league pitcher and YSU Hall of Famer Dave Dravecky to a four-year career record of 21-7, including a 7-1 mark in 1977, and a career earned run average of 1.85. His winning coaching ledger is a distant second to the person known as "Coach", someone who ate and slept Youngstown State athletics and always had time for anyone who requested time with him.
A native of Youngstown, Ohio, Rosselli attended Geneva College and started in three sports. Rosselli led Geneva to a football victory over Youngstown College in 1938, YSU's first season of football. Upon graduation in 1939, Rosselli earned a master's degree from the University of Pittsburgh and began his well-documented coaching career at Youngstown State. He began as an assistant football coach to the legendary late Dwight "Dike" Beede and assistant basketball coach to Ray Sweeney before taking over the reigns of the cage program in 1940-41.
His many coaching honors include the NCAA's District IV Coach of the Year, and Ohio's College Coach of the Year, both in 1957 and 1964, and the Italian Coach of the Year.
Rosselli was named to the Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame in 1978, and was named to the charter class of the Youngstown State University Athletics Hall of Fame in 1985.