Coaching Changes For The 2020 NCAA Gymnastics Season

Chris Waller

NCAA gymnastics competition season may be over, but the season of coaching changes is still underway. 

Toward the end of April, schools announce firings, hirings, and retirements, and this year was no different. Here’s a brief look at some of the new coaches at the bigger collegiate programs.

UCLA

Probably the most talked about coaching change from this season was actually set into motion before the 2019 NCAA season even started. UCLA’s Valorie Kondos Field announced in September that the 2019 season would be her last. She took advantage of every meet in her final season, and college gymnastics fans might even remember the dance party that ensued at her final home meet in Pauley Pavilion.



After finishing the 2019 season in third place, UCLA fairly quickly promoted former associate head coach Chris Waller. Waller’s first coaching hire was Kristina Comforte for the associate head coach position. Comforte is a former UCLA gymnast (2006-2008), and she spent 2009 and 2010 in an undergraduate assistant role, helping to lead UCLA to an NCAA championship in 2010. 

Jordyn Weiber, a well known name in elite gymnastics, left her UCLA volunteer coaching position at the end of the 2019 season, which brings us to the University of Arkansas’ coaching changes...

Arkansas

Arkansas head coach Mark Cook announced his retirement in early April. Cook had been with Arkansas since the beginning of the program, coming on board in 2001 and leading Arkansas’ in its first competitive season in 2003. 

The announcement Cook’s replacement was all done through social media. Two Razorback gymnasts, Jessica Yamzon and Sarah Shaffer, traveled across the country in a private jet to pick up Jordyn Weiber in Los Angeles, documenting the whole trip on Instagram

This will be Weiber’s first head coaching position, and she named Chris Bogantes and Chris Brooks as assistant coaches.

Bogantes was the assistant at the University of Illinois, coaching bars the last two seasons and was at Utah State previously. Brooks was a collegiate and Olympic gymnast and most recently, served as an assistant with the University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team that secured 19-straight wins this season finished second at NCAAs. Before joining the Sooners, Brooks coached the women’s team at Nebraska on vault and bars. 

Utah

Just four days after Utah’s season ended, co-head coach Megan Marsden retired following 34 years with the program. Tom Farden, her fellow head coach, was named the sole head coach the same day Marsden retired.

It took no time at all for Farden to promote Carly Dockendorf to assistant coach. Dockendorf was the team’s volunteer coach and choreographer in 2018 and the director of recruiting for the 2019 season. This new role at Utah is not a first for her, as she previously spent time as an assistant coach at Seattle Pacific.

To round out the Utah staff, Farden brought in husband-wife duo Garrett Griffeth and Courtney McCool Griffeth. Garret will hold the other assistant coach position and Courtney will serve as volunteer coach and choreographer. The Griffeths spent two seasons at Arkansas and helped the 2018 team qualify to the NCAA championship for the first time in five seasons. 

Other schools with coaching changes:

LSU

The most recent college coaching change came from LSU. Associate head coach Jay Clark was promoted to co-head coach alongside D-D Breaux. Clark has been at LSU since 2012 and was previously the head coach at Georgia from 2009 to 2012. 

The 2020 season will mark the end of D-D Breaux’s contract. She extended it an extra year after the 2018 season.

Nebraska

Utah assistant coach Robert Ladanyi joined the Nebraska staff.

Before his time at Utah, Ladanyi spent two years at Denver. In the 2018 season, he coached Utah’s first individual NCAA champion on vault. Ladanyi did the same for Denver the year prior, but on the floor exercise. 

Denver

Assistant coach Jay Hogue retired in the middle of May after helping the Denver win the program’s first regional championship and lead the team to a fourth-place finish at this year’s NCAA Championships. Hogue was previously with the Pioneers for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He spent time at Georgia from 2013 to 2017 before coming back to Denver for his last two seasons. 

No replacement assistant coach has been named yet. 

Central Michigan

Head coach Jerry Reighard was fired April 18 for repeatedly disregarding the independent role of the school’s medical staff in regards to student-athlete injuries. 

Christine MacDonald was named Central Michigan’s new head coach about a month later. MacDonald has been with the Central Michigan program since her time as a student-athlete 31 years ago, first joining the staff as an assistant, and then being promoted to associate head coach in 2006.

Seattle Pacific

SPU head coach Laurel Tindall retired at the end of March after 46 years with Seattle Pacific. 

After 10 seasons as SPU’s assistant coach, Sarah Marshall was promoted to head coach.

Illinois

Assistant coach Chris Bogantes left Illinois for an assistant coach position at the University of Arkansas.

No replacement has been named. 

New Hampshire

After 40 seasons at New Hampshire, head coach Gail Goodspeed announced her retirement at the end of the 2019 season. 

No replacement has been named.  

William and Mary

After a 25-year tenure, William and Mary head coach Mary Lewis announced the 2019 season would be her last. 

No replacement has been named. 

Southern Connecticut

Head coach Jerry Nelson retired from Southern Connecticut in early April.

No replacement has been named.  

There are still hirings to be made at various schools and this list will continue to be updated as changes are made.

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