Penn State hires Sarah Brown as women’s gymnastics coach to replace embattled Thompsons
Penn State announced Thursday the hiring of women’s gymnastics coach Sarah Brown, who will take on the task of repairing the program’s image after emotional abuse allegations surrounded her predecessor.
Gymnasts and a former assistant coach told PennLive last year the husband-and-wife coaching duo of Jeff and Rachelle Thompson used bullying tactics and pried into the personal lives of their athletes. Rachelle, the associate head coach, resigned last June. And in February, PSU fired head coach Jeff with several weeks remaining in the season.
Brown arrives in State College after steering Eastern Michigan to the MAC Championship this season in her first year as a head coach. Before that, she served as an assistant for Michigan, one of PSU’s Big Ten foes.
As a college gymnast, Brown competed for Utah during the 2006-07 season before transferring to Missouri, where she emerged as a star from 2007 to ’10. Brown (formerly Sarah Shire) was a four-time All-American and earned a spot in the Missouri Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.
“We are ecstatic to have Sarah Brown joining the Penn State family as the leader of our women’s gymnastics program,” athletic director Sandy Barbour said in a statement. “Sarah is a rapidly rising star in the coaching ranks. She has been involved with some of the nation’s premier women’s gymnastics programs as a student-athlete, coach and administrator.”
Penn State finished this past season with an 11-8 overall record and placed seventh in the 10-team Big Ten.