Jim Tressel's name has been linked to a lot of big jobs over the last few months, from president of the University of Akron, to offensive coordinator gig for the Detroit Lions, to most recently, president of Youngstown State, where Tressel coached before his tenure in Columbus. Tressel currently holds an administrative position with the University of Akron.
Could the former Buckeye great leave his current job for a dramatically higher profile position soon? Anybody who has ever sat through a Tressel press conference could predict that the man has been tightlipped about his future plans. We decided to go a different route to potentially look for clues. Land-Grant Holy Land obtained a copy of Tressel's contract for his current job at Akron. Below are some of the highlights:
– Tressel's deal started at $200,00 a year, signed on May 1st, 2012, payable monthly. His pay was bumped up $10,000 on July 1, 2013, so he should be at $210,000 a year. Every July 1st, Tressel would be eligible for another $10,000 bump. Not a bad salary by any means, but one that pales in comparison to what he used to make. During his tenure at Ohio State, Jim Tressel reportedly made over 21 million dollars. For some perspective here, Jim Tressel's signing bonus alone in 2003 was $200,000.
– Speaking of next July 1, Tressel's contract actually only runs through June 30, 2014. It's unlikely that Akron or Youngstown State will have hired a new president by then, so technically, Tressel could be a "free agent" in time to make a run at either higher level position. However, we talked to two experts in university administration, and both told Land-Grant Holy Land that the end date of his contract would not be a factor in being considered for other employment. If Tressel wanted to apply for the Youngstown State gig, and he was still "under contract" with Akron, both sides would find a way to make it work.
– Jim Tressel reports directly to the current president at Akron. Presumably, if that level of university administration interested him, he'd have enough of a relationship to get more insights and exposure about the position.
– Akron specifically encouraged Tressel to continue with outside speaking engagements, or with side gigs as a writer or columnist, so long as such side jobs didn't interfere with his regular duties at Akron.
– Tressel's job title changed from Vice President of Strategic Engagement to Vice President of Student Success on December 10, 2013.
So just how likely is it that Tressel becomes the president of a major university? On many levels, it would be a long shot. This study shows that just 20% of presidents came from outside academia, although that number has been rising over the years. That pool likely draws heavily from politicians and business leaders, though. We couldn't think of another example of a candidate jumping into a high, non-athletic department university role after primarily working as a coach.
Just about any other gig that Tressel could consider would come with a pay increase (YSU's previous president made $350,000), but after all the money that Tressel made at Ohio State, salary might not be much of an issue. It will come down to Tressel's interest in academic leadership, his interest in closing the door on any football related opportunities, and his ability to overcome rather significant gaps in his resume on an interview. Those are things that we won't know about for a while.
For now though, being Vice President of Student Success at Akron certainly seems like a pretty good gig.
Tressel's Akron contract is as follows: