In the last twelve months, Youngstown State has knocked off a BCS football opponent for the first time ever, secured the first men’s basketball postseason berth in their Division I history, and earned a bid to the Women’s NIT. It’s success that has led many fans to ponder an upward move to the FBS level, and specifically the Mid American Conference. Jon Steinbrecher was named MAC Commissioner in 2009, and is quick to point out that such a jump is rooted in the almighty dollar.
”For most FCS schools, that would want to move forward, they’re probably looking at doing something like doubling their budget to put them in the median range of where we are,” Steinbrecher said.
YSU Athletic Director Ron Strollo admitted that finances are a major hurdle in such a jump.
”I think right now, financially, it would be a huge commitment from the institution,” Strollo said. ”We run about a twelve million dollar budget. Those institutions are probably running about 24, 25, 26 million dollar budgets.”
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But finances aren’t the only factor considered. Equally as important is sustained success in athletic competition. It’s something Athletic Director Ron Strollo says the Penguins more than hold their own in.
” I think what I can say is that we’re playing at such a high level. And, a lot of times, a much higher level of football than the Mid-American Conference,” Strollo confessed.
Steinbrecher is equally as proud of the success rate of MAC teams historcially.
“Our top teams, we think, we not only say, but we also can show by performance, that we can compete with anyone nationally. That’s what we’re trying to do,” Steinbrecher said.
During his tenure, Steinbrecher has never been approached by YSU to join the conference. Current MAC members mirror each other in stricture and philosophy. To join them requires a careful cross check of the Prospective Membership Principles which include examining that school’s academic reputation, facilities, and location.
” Markets are important. But what’s more important in my mind is brand. What is the brand that you bring. And, if you’re gonna bring someone in, how do they enhance your brand,” added Steibrecher.
Meanwhile, Strollo contends that YSU is perfectly content in its current conference affiliations.
“Strategically, the Board and the President gotta decide, is that really where we want to go. But, for now, we’re extremely happy with the Missouri Valley Football Conference, and the type of competition that we play,” Strollo said,.