UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour has announced the appointment of Sarah Brown as the eighth head coach of the women's gymnastics program. A two-time Big 12 Conference Gymnast of the Year, Brown comes to Happy Valley after serving as the head coach at Eastern Michigan University.
"We are ecstatic to have Sarah Brown joining the Penn State family as the leader of our women's gymnastics program," said Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour. "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. Sarah led Eastern Michigan to the MAC Championship this past season, guiding her team to its second-highest score in program history. We are excited about the passion, experience and leadership she will bring in engaging with recruits and our women's gymnastics alumni and help elevate the program within the conference and nationally."
"I'm honored and thrilled to be a part of Penn State Athletics!" Brown said. "Sandy and her staff have been incredible throughout this process and I can't thank them enough for making State College feel like home! This University has so much passion and pride and I'm looking forward to guiding the gymnastics team to the top of the Big Ten Conference and onto the national stage.
"I couldn't be more grateful for the support I've received from Eastern Michigan Athletics and I wish everyone at EMU and in the community the very best moving forward," Brown added. "I can't wait to get started at Penn State and I look forward to meeting the gymnasts and the journey and process ahead...We Are!!"
This past season, as the head coach of the Eastern Michigan women's gymnastics team, Brown led the Eagles to the Mid-American Conference (MAC) regular season title, the MAC Championship, an appearance at the NCAA Regionals and a final national ranking of No. 27. At the 2017 MAC Gymnastics Championships, Eastern Michigan tallied its second-best score in program history (196.500), recorded a school record on the uneven bars (49.300), and three gymnasts tied for the uneven bars title.
During the 2016-17 season, a total of 10 Eastern Michigan gymnasts were named Academic All-MAC and five were selected MAC Distinguished Scholars. Four of the Eagles' MAC Distinguished scholars owned a grade-point average of 3.85 or higher. During the 2016 fall semester, Brown's squad earned a combined 3.49 grade-point average and a 3.69 GPA in the spring of 2017.
Brown served for one season as a volunteer assistant coach at the University of Michigan during the 2015-16 school year, helping the Wolverines win the 2016 Big Ten Championship. She assisted on all four events and helped with development of daily practice plans. Her role with the Wolverines also included assisting with community service, recruiting and team travel.
Before joining the Michigan coaching staff, Brown was an assistant women's gymnastics coach at Southeast Missouri State University for three seasons, where she was selected the Midwest Independent Conference Assistant Coach of the Year in 2014. Brown was the head beam coach and beam/floor choreographer and helped develop three MIC individual champions in 2014, two MIC Freshman of the Year selections and four NCAA regional all-around competitors.
She also was the director of operations for the University of Missouri women's gymnastics program for one year before starting her collegiate coaching career.
Brown began her collegiate gymnastics career at the University of Utah for one season before completing her collegiate career at the University of Missouri. A four-time All-American at Mizzou, she was the Tigers' Female Athlete of the Year in 2009 and 2010 and earned the Director of Athletics Leadership Award in 2010.
Brown brings numerous achievements from her time as a student-athlete to Penn State. Along with her All-America plaudits, Brown was selected the Big 12 Conference Gymnast of the Year in 2009 and 2010, was named to the All-Big 12 Championship Team nine times and was a nominee for the 2010 Honda Broderick Cup award.
A 2015 Missouri Athletics Hall of Fame inductee, Brown was named the 2008 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and earned South Central Regional Gymnast of the Year honors twice (2009-10).
While she was at Utah, Brown was a member of the team that finished second at the NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships in 2007.
Prior to her collegiate gymnastics career, she was a four-time member of the USA National Team (2002-05).
A two-time graduate of the University of Missouri, Brown earned a bachelor's degree in interdisciplinary studies with an emphasis in communication and business in 2010 and a master's of education in counseling psychology with an emphasis in sport psychology in 2012.
A native of Columbia, Missouri, the former Sarah Shire is married to Antonio Brown.
The Nittany Lions will return 12 members from the 2017 team, along with four incoming freshmen in 2018.