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Jay Clark Named Louisiana’s Top Collegiate Coach

Jay Clark Named Louisiana’s Top Collegiate Coach

NEW ORLEANS – Head Coach Jay Clark was named the Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Outstanding Collegiate Coach for Louisiana after leading the LSU Gymnastics team to their first-ever national championship in 2024.

In just his fourth season as head coach, Clark brought home the program’s first NCAA title to Baton Rouge. After finishing first in the NCAA Semifinals, the Tigers secured their spot in the finals for the 10th time in school history and second year in a row under Clark. 

The Tigers turned in a clutch performance on the beam in the final rotation to claim the title with a 198.2250 in the Final Four, defeating California (197.8500), Utah (197.8000) and Florida (197.4375). With the win, LSU became just the eighth program in NCAA history to win the women’s gymnastics championship.

“I hoped the lessons that we learned from last year when we made the finals would help us,” Clark said. “Honor one another with their actions, stay unselfish, not just when they had to due to adversity, but when things were going well. And they did. The team set aside personal ambitions and trusted the coaches. As a coach, you have to have a good relationship with your athletes, you need to communicate well; I feel we did that.”

The team championship marked the 52nd in the history of LSU Athletics. It comes on the cusp of both the LSU baseball and women’s basketball teams capturing NCAA titles in the last calendar year.

Clark now adds another award to his resume for his efforts throughout the 2024 season. Earlier this year, he was also named the SEC Co-Head Coach of the Year after winning the program’s fifth SEC Championship and the Region One Head Coach of the Year after winning the Fayetteville Regional and bringing home the program’s 14th NCAA regional title. 

“I’m grateful [for this award], but the credit goes to the team and the kids that were getting the job done,” Clark said. “I’m so grateful to D-D Breaux for the opportunity to come here 12 years ago and then the trust she had in me to take over when she retired. The Sugar Bowl, for me, has always been the most iconic sports event ever. I was at the 1980 Sugar Bowl as a kid in Georgia. It’s a tremendous organization and its historical significance is tremendous. To win an award like this means the world to me.”

It was a historic season for Clark and the Tigers, starting with a record breaking number of 8,000 season tickets sold ahead of the 2024 season, surpassing last year’s record of 7,400. LSU went undefeated at home with a record of 6-0 and finished the regular season No. 1 in attendance thanks to Clark’s efforts.

It was only the second time in program history that LSU earned the highest average attendance in the nation and was highlighted with three consecutive sold-out crowds, the most that LSU has seen in a single season. The Tigers finished the regular season with an average attendance of 12,590, marking the highest average in school history and the seventh-straight season with an average of 10,000 or better.

The Tigers placed in the top five nationally for all 12 weeks of regular season competition, including top 5 rankings on all four events for six consecutive weeks. Clark mainly coaches the bars squad, who finished the regular season ranked third in the country and spent 11 weeks ranked in the top five nationally.

The Sugar Bowl has recognized an Outstanding Louisiana College Coach since 1961 and Clark is now the second gymnastics coach to be honored with the award, joining the legendary D-D Breaux, who earned the honor in 2017 and 2019.

The New Orleans Sports Awards Committee, sponsored by the Allstate Sugar Bowl, has selected annual award winners in a variety of categories since 1958; it also selects Amateur Athletes of the Month and each year’s Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame class. 

Overall, 31 individuals and two teams will be honored for their achievements at the 2023-24 Allstate Sugar Bowl’s Awards Banquet on Saturday, August 3. Honorees are currently being announced, wrapping up with the Corbett Awards for the top male and female amateur athletes in the state on July 8 and 9.

Stay up to date with all things LSU Gymnastics by following the team’s social media channels @LSUgym on  Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.