Richards arrives in Happy Valley with over 25 years of collegiate coaching experience
Penn State finished their season with a No. 12 ranking and their 17 trip to the NCAA Championships
Penn State grabs top-12 national finish after earning program's 17th trip to NCAA Championships
Nittany Lions with 149 Academic All-Conference Honorees So Far in 2013-14
Nittany Lions look to advance to their first Super Six in school history on Friday at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex
Jeff Thompson enters his fourth season at the helm of the Penn State women's gymnastics program after being named the ninth head coach in program history on July 15, 2010. A two-time SEC Coach of the Year, Thompson joined the Nittany Lion family in 2010 after 11 successful years at Auburn University.
The 2013 season concluded with senior Sharaya Musser earning regular-season All-America honors on balance beam and in the all-around and also All-America honors on balance beam and in the all-around at the NCAA Championships to push her career total to eight All-America certificates. The Lions were ranked as high as No. 14 in the national rankings and ended the season at No. 15 with a National Qualifying Score of 392.375. Musser was also a first team All-Big Ten selection, Big Ten All-Championship Team pick and joined Lindsay Musgrove on the Big Ten Distinguished Scholars ledger. Madison Merriam was a first team All-Big Ten selection, as well.
Five gymnasts earned Academic All-Big Ten accolades for their work in the classroom, including Kassidy Stauder and Alex Witt, along with Merriam, Musgrove and Musser. In 2013, the team was awarded the Penn State Team Community Service Award for the third straight year.
In 2012, Thompson and his staff helped Musser earn the distinction of Big Ten Gymnast of the Year, marking the seventh time in program history a Nittany Lion was bestowed the award. Musser's award marked the third time in a four year span that a Penn State gymnast won the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year award. Additionally, Musser advanced to the NCAA Championships where she was named an All-American on floor exercise and balance beam. Thompson also produced six Academic All-Big Ten selections and two NACGC/W scholar athletes. In 2012, the team was awarded the Penn State Team Community Service Award for the second straight year.
In his first season at the helm of the Nittany Lion program, Thompson guided the Nittany Lions to a second place finish at the 2011 Big Ten Championships, with Natalie Ettl and Sharaya Musser earning individual event titles on Uneven Bars and in the All-Around, respectively. Penn State earned a berth to the NCAA Regional Championships as the No. 2 seed and narrowly missed advancing to the NCAA Championships.
Three Nittany Lions were selected to the 2011 All-Big Ten team, and Musser, a Honda Award nominee, advanced to the NCAA National Championships to represent Penn State. Outside the gym, the Nittany Lions excelled in the classroom and community. Five gymnasts earned Academic All-Big Ten laurels and the team was awarded the Penn State Team Community Service Award.
In 11 years as the head of the Auburn University women's gymnastics program, Thompson was named both the SEC Coach of the Year and NCAA Regional Head Coach of the Year in 2003 and 2008. The Tigers qualified for NCAA Regionals under Thompson for the first time in 2003 and advanced to the NCAA Championship that same year. Auburn's women's gymnastics team continued to improve each year and qualified for the NCAA Regionals for eight consecutive years. In 2005, the Thompsons hosted the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships at Auburn University.
With the exception of the University of Alabama, Thompson's teams posted victories over every SEC team during his tenure. In his final season in 2010, Thompson led Auburn to upset victories over No. 8 Arkansas, No. 12 Kentucky and finally defeated ten-time National Champion and five-time-in-a-row defending National Champion Georgia for the first time in program history.
Thompson and his wife, Rachelle, helped produced four NCAA All-Americans, four All-SEC selections, three SEC Gymnast of the Year winners and one SEC Freshman of the Year during their time at Auburn. They coached nine NCAA Championship individual qualifiers and four NCAA Regional Event Champions. Their gymnasts also excelled in the classroom and in the community in their 11 years with the program. There were three SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year winners, three CoSIDA/ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District members, 41 NACGC/W Academic All-Americans and 53 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections.
Prior to arriving at Auburn, Thompson was the assistant coach at Louisiana State University from 1994-99 and was the Junior Olympic Program Director at the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy in Fairfield, Ohio from 1993-94. Thompson also held assistant coaching positions at two Big Ten institutions, Illinois and Wisconsin, as well as serving as a graduate assistant coach at Kentucky.
Thompson earned a Bachelor of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Physical Education from Kentucky in 1985. He went on to receive a Master of Science in Biomechanics in 1995.
A native of Highland Heights, Ky., Jeff is married to the former Rachelle Fruge, who is the associate head coach for the Nittany Lions, and they have two sons, Parker and Griffin.