Jeff Richards Named Utah State Gymnastics Head Coach
July 31, 2008
LOGAN, Utah - Jeff Richards has been named Utah State's head gymnastics coach, it was announced Thursday by Utah State Director of Athletics Scott Barnes. Richards becomes only the second head coach in the Aggies' history after legendary coach Ray Corn retired after 31 seasons at the helm of the USU program.
"We are excited to hire someone with Jeff's background and experience," Barnes said. "He brings a wealth of passion and enthusiasm to our program. Jeff is from the area and is familiar with the tradition and success that our program has had and what is essential to continue that prominence."
Richards, who was born and raised in Logan and is a 1988 graduate of Logan High School, was an assistant coach at Utah State from 1988-90. He has spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Iowa, where he recently was named the 2008 North Central Region Assistant Co-Coach of the Year with fellow Iowa assistant, Talya Vexler. The award comes after Richards helped the Hawkeyes to a 10-4-1 record, a ranking as high as No. 19 in the national polls and finishing third in the Big Ten.
"I'm thankful to Utah State University for putting their confidence in me and I'm excited to move the program forward," Richards said. "There's a lot of history here for me and it's great to be returning home."
"We're thrilled to have Jeff aboard and are excited to see the new direction that he'll take the program," said Jana Doggett, USU Senior Associate Director of Athletics for External Operations. "Since he's from Cache Valley, we're glad to be the catalyst to bring him back to the area. He knows the community as well as the Utah State tradition."
Richards, who has over 20 years of collegiate gymnastics experience, served as Iowa's main bars coach and spotter for all four events. He was also in charge of travel, equipment and scheduling for the Hawkeyes. This past season Richards coached the Hawkeyes to a season-high 49.0 on bars in a dual meet against Iowa State. He also coached senior Katie Burke to a first-place performance against Illinois and Michigan State. Richards also coached freshman Rebecca Simbhudas to first-place performances on bars twice.
Richards began his coaching career as a student-assistant at Utah State from 1988-1990, before transferring to Southern Utah, where he finished his student assistant coaching duties and earned his bachelor's degree in physical education from SUU in 1995. While at Southern Utah, Richards was an assistant coach for the Thunderbirds under SUU head coach Scott Bauman, also a former USU assistant coach, until 1998. From 1998-2004 Richards was head coach at the University of Wisconsin-Stout and was head coach at Winona State University from 2004-'05 before joining Iowa in 2005.
While at Wisconsin-Stout, Richards earned the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coach of the Year Award for both the 2000 season and the 2001 season and the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) Coach of the Year honors for the 2000 season. He coached seven NCGA All-Americans and eight all-conference award winners at Wisconsin-Stout, leading the Blue Devils to the 2001 NCGA National Championships. UW-Stout broke its team-best score each of Richards' six seasons at the helm.
At Winona State, Richards mentored two gymnasts who qualified for the NCGA National Championships.
During his stint at Southern Utah, Richards helped increase the team score from 170 to 188 in his first year, as well as coaching individual regional qualifiers each year and one national qualifier and highly increased the Thunderbirds' recruiting caliber.
While at Utah State, Richards helped the Aggies to two appearances in the NCAA Regional Championships in both 1989 and 1990, and coached Tana Davis to the NCAA National Championships both seasons. Richards also helped coached all-High Country Athletic Conference honoree Stephanie Green in 1990.
Richards expects to name his assistants shortly after his starting date of Aug. 18.
Richards' Coaching Experience