|The Jon Riley File
Jon Riley enters his 11th season as head coach of the VCU Women's Track & Field program and ninth in charge of the men's team in 2018-19. Riley took over the reigns of the women's program in 2008 and the men's team in 2010, and has overseen a remarkable makeover of both by employing 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.
Riley's influence has produced three women's track Atlantic 10 Conference team championships (Indoors 2015, Outdoors 2016, Indoors 2017, Indoors 2018, Outdoors 2018), as well as a pair of All-Americans (Kiara Porter [5-time] and Jaleesa Williams [2-time]) and numerous individual conference champions. He has also kept the men's program in consistent competition for conference championships. In 2016, he guided the men's team to a third-place showing at the 2016 A-10 Outdoor Championships, the program's best since it joined the league prior to the 2012-13 season.
Riley's student-athletes have set school records in 31 women's and 10 men's events (indoor and outdoor) during his tenures.
In 2015, Riley's resurrection of the women's team took an important step when it captured the A-10 Indoor title, the program's first conference crown more than 20 years. The following year, Riley directed the women's squad to an A-10 outdoor title, the school's first outdoor championship since it won the 1994 Metro Conference crown.
Riley's guidance was critical in the recruitment and development of All-Americans Kiara Porter and Jaleesa Williams. Porter quickly became one of the all-time greats at VCU. In four seasons she racked up five All-America honors in the 400-meter run (three outdoors, two indoors), 16 individual and relay conference titles and three A-10 Most Outstanding Performer honors. In 2014 and 2015, she placed eighth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the 400. Porter set 11 school records as a Ram and was also a three-time Academic All-American. Williams, meanwhile, became the first thrower in VCU history to earn All-America status when she placed ninth in the discus at the 2013 NCAA Outdoor Championships. She placed 12th the following year in that event. She captured six individual conference titles and set five school records during her tenure.
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 fourth at the USA Junior Championships in the 400. In 2010, just two years into his tenure, Riley led the Black & Gold to its best CAA Championship performance in six years.
“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 2005-08, Riley was an assistant at Belmont in Nashville, Tenn. 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.
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 Communications. He later earned his Master’s in Athletic Administration there in 2005. Riley resides in Richmond.