Ralph Jones is a former assistant coach and student-athlete at Division I Morgan State. (Photo: Morgan State Athletics)
The Cal State East Bay Athletics Department and Director of Athletics Debby De Angelis named Morgan State Assistant Coach Ralph Jones as its new Head Cross Country and Track and Field Coach on Monday. A former student-athlete at Morgan State and assistant coach at Central Arizona College and Wilmington College, Jones has helped to coach 15 regional qualifiers in cross country and five school record holders in track and field over the past four years with the Bears.
“I am humbled yet excited to have the opportunity to lead the Pioneer cross country and track programs,” Jones said. “[Debby] De Angelis has a vision for our program and is a proven winner and leader who believes in my ability to lead and has been extremely supportive. The entire staff is committed to excellence. I look forward to being a part of the East Bay team and helping our student athletes become champions.”
As an assistant to Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Hall of Fame coach Neville G. Hodge at Morgan State since 2007, Jones was responsible for the development of the men's and women's distance programs and assisted with sprints, relays and jumps. Jones coached Morgan State's first MEAC cross country champion in Justus David in 2009 and had runners finish first and third at championships to garner All-MEAC honors. David was also named MEAC Performer of the Year under Jones.
“I want to thank my former boss Neville G. Hodge at Morgan State for mentoring me and giving me the opportunity to grow professionally to achieve this goal of head coach,” Jones said. “Now I am ready to embark on this new journey as a Pioneer to blaze a trail to be followed.”
Jones also found success with his distance runners in both indoor and outdoor track at Morgan State as five school records were broken during the 2009 indoor season and the Bears picked up a pair of MEAC titles at indoor and outdoor championships. Jones helped develop 29 NCAA regional qualifiers in track in his first two seasons as an assistant at Morgan State.
In addition to his regular coaching duties, Jones was in charge of recruiting for the men's and women's track and field and cross country programs at Morgan State, monitored the academic progress of all the cross country and track athletes and coordinated the budget and travel for the Bears.
“We are excited to have Ralph Jones take over the leadership of our cross country and track programs,” De Angelis said. “His coaching experience including most recently as a Division I assistant will allow us to take the next step into Division II.”
Prior to returning to his alma mater, Jones served as an assistant coach at junior college powerhouse Central Arizona College in Coolidge, Ariz., from 2003-07. While with the Vaqueros, Jones helped coach the cross country and track and field teams to seven National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) national titles. During his time there, Jones groomed seven individual national champions in track and field, two individual national champions in cross country and three national championship relay teams, and had 22 student-athletes named All-Americans. Jones was also a two-time national junior college Assistant Coach of the Year in 2005 and 2007.
Jones began his coaching career at NCAA Division III Wilmington College in Ohio, serving as the sprints, hurdles and jumps coach. At Wilmington, Jones developed the training and strength and conditioning programs for the sprinters and long and triple jumpers, and gained valuable recruiting experience bringing student-athletes to a program without athletic scholarships.
A 1999 graduate of Morgan State, Jones was a standout sprinter for the Bears, earning the 1996 MEAC title in the 200-meter dash and the 1997 Intercollegiate Association of Amateur Athletes of America 200 title. Jones was an NCAA qualifier in the 200 in 1998 and served as Vice President of the Bears' Student-Athlete Advisory Committee. A two-sport athlete, Jones also played football for Morgan State, leading the team in return yards and ranking among the top return specialists in the NCAA. Jones spent two seasons at Central Arizona where he was a team captain and part of the school's first national championship in track and field.
“His leadership began in his days as a SAAC officer and two-sport athlete at Morgan State, which has paved the path for the leadership he will bring to our program,” De Angelis said. “We expect to have success both athletically and academically and are excited to have Coach Jones leading our programs. He will be an excellent role model and mentor to our student-athletes.”
Jones holds USATF Level II certification in sprints, hurdles, relays and distance running and is certified to teach USATF Level I courses. At Morgan State, Jones was an adjunct faculty member, developing and teaching a “Coaching Track and Field” course in the Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Department. In addition to coaching and teaching, Jones served as an assistant meet director at the USATF Junior Olympic track meet in 2006 and assisted the Morgan State sports information staff with the track and cross country web pages, media guides and audio blog.
Jones earned a Bachelor of Science in physical education from Morgan State in 1999 and earned a master's in physical education from The Ohio State University in 2001. He also holds an associate's degree in recreation and parks management from Central Arizona College.
Jones will take the reigns from outgoing cross country and track coach Greg Ryan, who has retired after nine years with the Pioneers and a 35-year coaching career. Ryan guided Cal State East Bay to seven conference titles in cross country, including three straight women's titles from 2003-05.
“We want to thank Coach Ryan for his effort and coaching success as he moves into retirement,” De Angelis said. “We are pleased to have been able to select from an excellent pool of applicants and look forward to Coach Jones moving us forward in the CCAA.”
The Pioneers expect to be accepted as an active member in the NCAA Division II this summer after completing the three-year transition process during the 2010-11 season. Next year, Cal State East Bay will be eligible for both CCAA and NCAA postseason competition following the two-year probation period which it has just completed.