|The Jon Riley File
Jon Riley enters his eighth season as Head Track & Field and Cross Country Coach at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2016-17. Since taking over the reins of VCU in 2008, he has overseen the makeover of a program using three key ingredients, dedication, commitment and passion. While these three words are often associated with Coach Riley, they are also descriptors of his teams and coaching philosophy.
The 2015 indoor season saw history being made, as Coach Riley led the Women's Track and Field Indoor Team to it's first-ever conference title. The Rams bested the rest of the field by 20 points en route to the trophy. Leading the way was senior Kiara Porter, who brough home Most Outstanding Performer after winning the 60-meter, 200-meter, and 400-meters. In addition, junior Carina Peter took home the triple jump title, and the Rams swept the 60-meter race.
In 2014, Riley oversaw a successful campaign for the Rams sending two athletes to the Outdoor NCAA National Championships in Eugene, OR and four athletes to the NCAA East Preliminary Rounds in Jacksonville, FL. Senior Jaleesa Williams and trio of Juniors Kiara Porter, Brandon Ruffin, and Ryan Coles all represented the Rams at the East Preliminary. Porter and Williams advanced to the NCAA Championships where Porter finished 8th in the 400m earning an All-American status. This was Porter’s second All-American status of the year after earning Second Team All-American Status at the NCAA Indoor championships in the 400m. Williams finished 9th in the Discus at the National Championship meet earning a Second Team All-American status. Porter and Williams were named the A10 Track & Field Performers of the Year. Ruffin was tabbed at the A10 Field Performer of the Year. Riley’s men and women set 12 new school records.
In 2013, Riley helped Porter qualify for the USA Track & Field Championships in Des Moines, IA. Porter finished 14th in the 400m. Earlier in the year Porter advanced to the NCAA semifinals in Eugene, OR earning a Second Team All-American status. Riley lead the Lady Rams to a 3rd place finish at the A10 outdoor championships and the Men to a 5th place finish. Indoors Riley’s Lady Rams finished in 3rd place and the men finished in 7th. Riley’s men and women set 6 school records.
In 2012, Riley coached Porter to a gold medal as a part of Team USA’s 4x400 at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, Spain. Earlier in the year Porter finished 4th at the USA Junior Championships in the 400m. Riley’s men and women set 9 school records.
In 2011, While competing in the CAA Riley oversaw Quina Fortune to 2 CAA titles in the 100m and 200m. Riley’s women’s 4x100m also captured the CAA title. Riley’s men and women set 3 school records.
In 2010, just two years into his tenure, Riley led the Black & Gold to its best CAA Championship performance in six years. The Riley era has also seen 22 school records broken and seen every member of the VCU women’s track & field roster set at least one personal best.
“My staff and I are dedicated to this program and we love what we do,” Riley said. “We are committed to doing whatever it takes to put our athletes in the best position to be successful, both on and off the track. We will do whatever it takes to give our athletes the best experience possible here at VCU.”
Richmond isn’t the only stop in Riley’s coaching career that’s been successful. From 2005 to 2008, Coach Riley was an assistant at Belmont University in Nashville. He worked primarily with sprinters and jumpers. There he helped four different Bruins become NCAA Regional qualifiers, and he coached a total of nine Atlantic Sun Conference champions. In particular, Lynette Rives showcased a high level of excellence under Riley’s tutelage. She was an All-American in 2008 and also All-Region and a NCAA National qualifier in the 200 meters.
Prior to his stint at Belmont, Riley held the same position at his alma mater, Southeast Missouri State. While working with the jumpers, pole vaulters, javelin throwers and hurdlers, Coach Jon Riley helped the women’s program capture three Ohio Valley Conference championships and numerous All-Conference awards.
Riley’s coaching career began right out of college as he spent five years as an assistant at St. Augustine High School in New Orleans, known around the state of Louisiana as a powerhouse on the track.
Prior to his coaching experience, Jon Riley was two-sport star at Southeast Missouri State. Riley was a four-year starter at wide receiver for the Southeastern Missouri State, Redhawks. In addition to his days on the gridiron, Riley was a track and field standout. He would go on to earn five Ohio Valley Conference individual titles, qualify three times provisionally for the NCAA’s, break the school record in the Long Jump and score the most combined points in school history at conference meets.
A native of New Orleans, LA, Riley graduated from Southeast Missouri State in 1998 with a degree in Mass Communication. He later earned his Master’s in Athletic Administration there in 2005. Riley resides in Richmond, VA.