The Ohio State coaching staff, led by Jim Tressel, went to West Virginia and, through its powers of persuasion, was able to get the person it wanted
No, this isn’t about Josh Jenkins, although the parallels could end up being similar. In this particular incidence, the subject was Shelly Poe, the director of West Virginia University’s sports communications office. Tressel and receivers coach Darrell Hazell were able to convince the lifelong West Virginian that a move to Columbus to serve as the football program’s sports information director was the right one.
“Darrell Hazell is a longtime friend of mine,” Poe said Wednesday from her office in Morgantown. “He coached here at West Virginia (from 1999-2000) and he has told me a many times – and he’s been a lot of places – how awesome it is there, that he enjoys the people and he enjoys the program and the whole setup.”
Starting next week, Poe will take over as OSU’s director of athletics communications, specifically working as the communications director for the football program. She brings with her a boatload of credentials.
The 42-year-old comes to Ohio State as a member of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Hall of Fame. She took over as the sports information director at West Virginia in 1988 after graduating from WVU in ’85. At the time of her hiring as the head SID at the age of 23, she was the only female to hold the job at a Division I school.
A graduate of University High School in Morgantown, Poe said it was hard to leave her comfort zone but looks forward to a new challenge in Columbus.
“It’s really hard,” she said. “I’m from here, I’ve worked here as a student and I never left. I’ve been 19 years in this same job and it’s been wonderful, it’s been great, but this was a really super opportunity and chance to do I guess almost specifically just the stuff I like to do.”
Ohio State’s athletic department likes to pride itself on tradition, excellence and people, and Poe said the latter of those was one of the main reasons she took the prominent job.
“I think I counted it up – I met with 24 different people and they were all just super,” Poe said of her June interview at OSU. “They were really nice and friendly but they have so much pride in Ohio State and they have so much enthusiasm for whatever it takes to get it done. That was very appealing.”
Rumors abounded that Tressel personally pushed for Poe to get the job, and she did say that it appeared the seventh-year head coach took a liking to her. She said she’s known Tressel through her work at WVU with coaches Don Nehlen and Rich Rodriguez and looks forward to working with him.
“I thought he was very friendly, easy to deal with,” Poe said. “That’s kind of how people are in West Virginia, kind of laid back.”
Her primary duties will include working on the OSU football media guide, traveling with the team on road trips and coordinating all media inquiries and publicizing of the team. While fans might not immediately see the difference in the football program with Poe around, she said she hopes to make an impact on the way they are able to follow the team.
“We are still the conduit through the media to get the message out,” she said. “What the fans want to know, hopefully they’ll be able to contact us and we’ll be able to get info to them that they need to know, both timely and interesting. Fans always want to know more and there are so many guys on the football team. There are always stories that haven’t gotten told yet.”
Poe has also been a president of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association in her career and served on the CoSIDA Board of Directors, where she rewrote and updated the organization’s constitution. She has contributed to 43 publications that have won CoSIDA awards.
The hiring of Poe was the final move to occur after Steve Snapp, the former associate athletics director for communications who was also the football SID, was promoted to a spot as associate athletics director for broadcasting and senior advisor to the athletics director. Snapp, another CoSIDA Hall of Famer, has been with the university since 1973 and headed the school’s athletics communications department from 1988-98 and since 2000.
Dan Wallenberg, OSU’s men’s basketball publicist and Snapp’s second-in-command, has taken over as the assistant AD for communications and will keep his spot with the Buckeye cagers.
“I think Ohio State, for a lot of people, is a destination,” said Wallenberg, who has been with the university since 1998. “For our coaches, student-athletes and administrators, if you can get to Ohio State, you’ve accomplished something, so it’s really an honor to have this opportunity.”
In other news in the office, Gerry Emig, Snapp’s predecessor, was rehired to work with the baseball team and as the editor of football and men’s basketball game programs. Danielle Warner, who for the past two years has been a graduate intern in the office, has been promoted to an assistant director of the office, while Emily Meyer, a 2007 OSU graduate, has taken over Warner’s spot.