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June 6, 2014
Richards has over 25 years of collegiate coaching experience across Divisions I, II and III. Most recently he served as an assistant coach at George Washington University in 2014. Prior to joining the staff at GWU, he served as the head women's gymnastics coach at Utah State University from 2008-13. Richards is familiar with Big Ten gymnastics, as well, spending four seasons at the University of Iowa.
"We are excited to have Jeff Richards join our staff," said head coach Jeff Thompson. "I have known Jeff for a long time and have watched him coach at every level and every division in the NCAA. His diverse background will help us to continue to build upon the strong foundation of our team.
"He is a well-rounded coach, but his uneven bar teams have especially excelled. His knowledge, passion and enthusiasm along with his expertise in coaching every event is something we are looking forward to adding to our staff. We believe his strongest attribute can be found in his recruiting ability. His relationships with gymnastics club coaches across the country will help our program continue to attract some of the nation's top student-athletes to Penn State."
In one season at George Washington, Richards helped the Colonials set school records on the vault and uneven bars, while helping the program to a record five first team All- East Atlantic Gymnastics League performers in 2014. He helped Chelsea Raineri to an EAGL co-championship on the vault - the first conference champion for George Washington since 2002 - and earn the EAGL Rookie of the Year award.
"The minute I arrived on campus I knew that Penn State is where I wanted to be," said Richards. "Jeff and Rachelle [Thompson] made me feel like I was already a part of the Penn State family and I am looking forward to this next chapter in my life. I am proud to become a part of Penn State's long history of athletic and academic excellence."
Richards spent five seasons at the helm of the Aggies program and was named the 2011 NCAA Division I National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches North Central Region Co-Head Coach of the Year. His stay in Logan, Utah spanned from 2009-2013 and included 19 student-athletes advancing to the NCAA Regionals.
His Aggies sent five individual qualifiers to the NCAA Regional during the 2009 and 2011 seasons, while the 2010, 2012 and 2013 teams each advanced three student-athletes to regional competition. Nine of Richards' pupils garnered All-Western Athletics Conference honors on 13 occasions.
In the classroom, Richards had 22 student-athletes earn Academic All-WAC on 36 occasions.
Prior to USU, Richards spent the 2005-08 seasons as an assistant coach at the University of Iowa, where he was named the 2008 North Central Region Assistant Co-Coach of the Year with fellow Iowa assistant, Talya Vexler. He served as Iowa's main uneven bars coach and also oversaw travel, equipment and scheduling for the Hawkeyes.
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 Utah State, Richards helped the Aggies to two appearances in the NCAA Regional Championships in both 1989 and 1990, and coached Tana Davis in the all-around to the NCAA National Championships both seasons. Richards also helped coach all-High Country Athletic Conference honoree Stephanie Green in 1990.
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 and 2001 seasons, and the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Coach of the Year honors for the 2000 season. He coached seven NCGA All-Americans and eight all-conference award winners, leading the Blue Devils to the 2001 NCGA National Championships.
At Winona State, Richards mentored two gymnasts who qualified for the NCGA National Championships.
Richards was born and raised in Logan, Utah and has two daughters, Kanyon, who attends Utah State, and Kennedy, who lives in Menomonie, Wis.
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