Jay Clark Season 2024
Named the Ninth-Best Recruiter in College Athletics by ESPN The Magazine (2011)
USA Gymnastics Region 8 Hall of Fame
2018 Region Co-Assistant Coach of the Year
2017 National Co-Assistant Coach of the Year
2017 Region Co-Assistant Coach of the Year
2016 National Co-Assistant Coach of the Year
2016 Central Region Co-Assistant Coach of the Year
2015 Central Region Co-Assistant Coach of the Year
2014 National Co-Assistant Coach of the Year
2014 Central Region Co-Assistant Coach of the Year
2013 Central Region Co-Assistant Coach of the Year
2006 National Assistant Coach of the Year
2006 Southeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year
2001 USAG State of Georgia Coach of the Year
Jay Clark, a 33-year veteran of college gymnastics and one of the best recruiters in the sport, is in his fourth season as the head coach of the LSU gymnastics program.
Clark was tabbed as the third head coach in program history in August 2021 following the retirement of D-D Breaux. Clark is in his thirteenth season overall at LSU following his hiring as the Tigers’ associate head coach in 2012. He owns a record of 45-30-2 in the Purple and Gold owns an overall record of 95-57-4 heading into the 2024 season.
Clark is regarded as one of the best recruiters in the sport and the top bars coach in collegiate gymnastics history. The Tigers’ associate head coach for eight seasons and co-head coach for one, Clark’s leadership and expertise has helped bring unprecedented visibility to the program and success on the recruiting trail and in the gym.
During the time since Clark’s arrival, LSU has earned the best performances in school history as the NCAA Runner-Up in 2016, 2017 and 2019, appearances in the NCAA Championship Finals in seven of nine seasons, numerous school records, produced eight NCAA individual national champions, and five SEC meet and regular season championships.
His work with the Fighting Tigers of LSU has not gone unnoticed. Clark was named the WCGA Region 1 Coach of the Year in his first season in 2021. He was also named the Central Region Co-Assistant Coach of the Year along with former LSU assistant Bob Moore five times.
Clark earned the 2014 and 2017 National Co-Assistant Coach of the Year award with Moore. It marked the third time in his distinguished coaching career he has garnered the nation’s top award. He was inducted into the USA Gymnastics Region 8 Hall of Fame in 2018. Because of his recruiting success, ESPNU and ESPN the Magazine selected Clark as the ninth-best recruiter in all of collegiate athletics in 2011.
In the gym, Clark is viewed as the top bars coach in collegiate gymnastics history. Clark has coached the Tigers to 39 All-America honors on bars, four of the five highest bars team scores in school history and the top two bars title winners in LSU history. LSU’s bars lineup has finished in the top-10 in the nation eight times, including the No. 1 team in 2018. During the 2023 season, the bars squad overseen by Clark recorded a season high score of 49.525 at the NCAA Denver Regional Finals on April 2 to set a new LSU regional record score on the event.
In his illustrious career, Clark has coached nine NCAA bars champions and two during his time in Baton Rouge. As head coach of the Fighting Tigers, Haleigh Bryant was selected as the SEC Freshman of the Year and Kiya Johnson was selected as the SEC Specialist of the Year.
In his first season as the leader of the program, Clark led the squad to the program’s 31st NCAA Championships appearance. He became the fourth head coach in NCAA Gymnastics history to lead two division I programs to NCAA Championships.
Clark oversaw the 2023 Tiger squad that finished fourth overall at the NCAA Championships. Haleigh Bryant finished as the All-Around Champion at the NCAA Championships The Tigers finished the year in the top 10 for all four events (No. 3 on vault, No. 3 on floor, No. 9 on bars and No. 10 on beam). The Tigers were ranked in the top-10 for nine straight weeks in 2023. Despite injury adversity, Clark led the Tigers every week to compete in a confident and fearless fashion while still post strong scores. The team earned the second seed at the SEC Championships and at the NCAA Denver Regional.
Five of the six bars workers in 2021 featured underclassmen and the squad ultimately finished sixth in the nation with an NQS of 49.456. Sami Durante moved into the anchor spot of bars and earned All-America honors for the first time in her career. Freshman Olivia Dunne and sophomore Alyona Shchennikova finished in the top eight at NCAA Championships to earn All-America honors.
In the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, LSU finished fifth in the nation on bars with a 49.405 NQS. Ruby Harrold competed in the anchor spot of the bars lineup and finished 19th in the nation, and Sami Durante finished 25th .
Clark tutored Sarah Finnegan, who ended her career in April 2019 as one of the greatest gymnasts in LSU history. Finnegan became the first NCAA bars champion in school history in 2017 and earned the title once again in 2019. Finnegan and Lexie Priessman won SEC bars champions in 2019 and 2017 respectively, scored perfect scores in 2019 and led the squad that finished fourth in the nation.
The 2018 season on bars under Clark marked the best lineup in LSU history and one of the best in the history of the NCAA. The group posted a school record score of 49.725 and once again went on to break the record against Arizona with a 49.750 for the second-highest in all of NCAA Gymnastics since 1988.
The lineup, anchored by Finnegan, led the nation on bars for the first time in school history. Finnegan became the first gymnast in school history to finish the season ranked No. 1 on the event and joined Sharene Mamby (2001) and Syreeta Barnett (1997) as the only gymnasts at LSU to score a perfect 10.0 on the event.
In 2017, Clark coached Finnegan to the first NCAA Uneven Bars Championship in school history. Clark set the record for the most individual national champions on the event in NCAA gymnastics history.
Clark’s bars squad finished ranked third in the nation for a fourth-consecutive top-5 finish in 2017. The team’s average score of 49.367 broke the previous record set in 2015. Finnegan and Priessman combined for three All-America honors. Priessman also took home the program’s first SEC Uneven Bars championship in more than 20 seasons at the league meet.
LSU earned another Top-5 national ranking on bars in 2016 with an average score of 49.252. Finnegan, Priessman and Myia Hambrick combined to tally four All-America honors during the historic season.
The Tigers posted a Top-5 national ranking on bars in 2015, and the team totaled the second-highest bars total in school history with a 49.600 against Iowa. The Tigers also accumulated the second-best season average on bars in school history with a 49.288 average.
As a team LSU produced four All-America honors on bars in 2015 with three gymnasts (Rheagan Courville, Randii Wyrick and Shae Zamardi) earning First-Team All-America honors at the NCAA Championships. It marked the first time in program history that three gymnasts secured First-Team All-America honors on bars in one season.
Under Clark’s direction, LSU shattered the school record with a 49.330 average on bars and finished the 2014 season ranked No. 5 nationally in the event. In addition, the Tigers tallied three of the top-10 bars scores in school history, including a 49.600 that ranks as the second best, and LSU produced three All-America honors on bars.
Clark coached Courville to a First-Team All-America honor at the 2014 NCAA Championships, and Courville went on to finish fifth in the event at the NCAA Individual Finals.
LSU reached the Super Six in the 2013 season, and under Clark’s guidance the Tigers finished the season with a 49.260 regional qualifying score on bars, the highest final RQS in that event since the 2009 season.
Clark coached Morrison and Wyrick to First-Team All-America honors on bars in his first season with the Tigers, and it marked the first season LSU produced at least two All-Americans on bars since 2010.
Before Clark joined LSU after he spent 20 seasons at the University of Georgia where he helped guide the Gym Dogs to seven NCAA National Titles and 14 Southeastern Conference Championships.
Clark primarily coached bars at Georgia, and he coached the Gym Dogs to 64 All-America honors and seven NCAA individual national titles on bars, including two-time champions Courtney Kupets and Kat Ding.
From 2009-12, Clark served as the head coach at Georgia, and during that time the Gym Dogs captured three NCAA individual national championships, won the 2012 NCAA Auburn Regional, and produced 23 All-America honors. In 2012, his Georgia team won the Bulldog Cup, which recognizes the UGA team that excels academically, supports their peers in athletics and consistently serves the community.
Prior to his stint as head coach, Clark was the recruiting coordinator at Georgia from 1999-2009 while serving as assistant coach from 1999-2004 and associate head coach from 2005-09 when Georgia won an NCAA record five-straight national titles.
Clark also coached at the club level for 13 years from 1992-2005 as the founder, owner and head coach of Classic City Gymnastics in Athens, Georgia. He coached several Classic City gymnasts to state, regional, national championships and to the Junior Olympic National Team, and eight gymnasts went on to compete at the NCAA Division I level.
A native of Roswell, Georgia, Clark earned his undergraduate degree in exercise science from Georgia.
Clark is married to the former Julie Ballard, an All-American Georgia gymnast from 1994-98 and a native of Mandeville, Louisiana. The couple has two children – a son, Cole, and a daughter, Kinsey.
College Coaching Experience
2020-present – Head Coach, LSU
2019-2020 – Co-Head Coach, LSU
2012-2019 – Associate Head Coach, LSU
2009-2012 – Head Coach, Georgia
2005-2009 – Associate Head Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, Georgia
1998-2004 – Assistant Coach/Recruiting Coordinator, Georgia
1990-1996 – Assistant Coach, Georgia