UCLA Hires Joanna Hayes as Director of Track & Field/Cross Country

LOS ANGELES - UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame member and Olympic gold medalist Joanna Hayes returns to UCLA as the new The Sherie L. and Donald G. Morrison UCLA Director of Track & Field/Cross Country. Hayes previously served as an assistant coach for the Bruins from 2014-16 and for USC from 2017-24.

"I am honored to return to UCLA as the Director of Track & Field and Cross Country. This opportunity represents a full circle moment for me, and I am grateful to Martin Jarmond for trusting me to lead this esteemed program and uphold its strong legacy," said Hayes. "As Director, I am committed to guiding this program with values rooted in respect, passion, discipline, family, and community engagement. I am ready to embark on this journey, as it brings me back to the joy and excitement I felt 30 years ago on signing day when I first became a Bruin. I'm ready to win some championships alongside our dedicated alumni, staff, student-athletes, and the Bruin fans and supporters!"

A six-time All-American at UCLA from 1996-99, Hayes won seven Pac-10 titles and the 1999 NCAA outdoor title in the 400m hurdles. She led UCLA to three-straight Pac-10 team titles and two-straight NCAA runner-up finishes, and her Bruin teams went 39-0 in dual meets in her career. At the Pac-10 level, Hayes won three-straight 100m hurdles titles from 1996-98 and two-straight 400m hurdles crowns from 1996-97. In 2004, she won Olympic gold, breaking a 16-year Olympic record with a winning time of 12.37 in the 100m hurdles. Also that year, she won the 2004 Jesse Owens Award as USA Track & Field's outstanding female athlete and finished as the No. 1-ranked 100m hurdler in the world. Additionally, she won gold in the 400m hurdles at the 2003 Pan American Games.

In her previous coaching stint at UCLA, Hayes was an assistant sprints, hurdles and relays coach. In her first season in 2014, she coached Brea Buchanan and Trinity Wilson to the NCAA finals in the 100m hurdles. Hayes also guided the women's 4x100m relay team to the NCAA Championship meets in 2015 and 2016.

"I am excited to bring Joanna back home to UCLA," remarked the Alice and Nahum Lainer Family Director of Athletics Martin Jarmond. "Her credentials as an Olympic gold medalist, NCAA Champion, Hall of Fame athlete and award-winning coach speak for itself. Her passion, energy and vision for UCLA track and field make her the right choice to lead this program."

"Winning has been in Joanna's DNA, from her high school athletic days, to becoming a champion student-athlete at UCLA and an Olympic gold medalist, to her successful coaching career," said UCLA Athletics Hall of Famer Jeanette Bolden. "She is now bringing that winning DNA to the men's and women's program at UCLA. I could not be happier for Joanna and her family."

At USC, Hayes earned USTFCCCA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year honors three times, most recently being selected for the 2024 outdoor season with the women after her hurdlers scored 16 of the Trojans' 25 points at the NCAA Championships, where USC finished 10th. She was the 2023 indoor men's assistant of the year after coaching a pair of Trojans to the top two times in the nation in the 60m hurdles. Her first award came in 2018, when two USC hurdlers won Pac-12 titles and four of her 100m hurdlers advanced to the NCAA Championships.

Hayes' athletes have been among the most successful at USC during her time with the team. Anna Cockrell won six NCAA and five Pac-12 titles and went on to compete at the Olympics. Jasmine Jones was the 2024 Pac-12 Women's Track Athlete of the Year and won a pair of NCAA titles in 2024, taking the outdoor 400m hurdles title with a school and meet record, and winning the indoor 60m title. Hayes was a volunteer assistant coach in 2021 when the Trojans won the NCAA Women's Outdoor title.

"I am thrilled for this opportunity that Joanna is getting to lead UCLA's program," said Georgia Director of Track & Field Caryl Smith Gilbert. "She is a hard worker who has coached NCAA champions and trained Olympic medalists. She understands the important aspect of recruiting in our sport and does a great job at it. I am proud to add Joanna as another branch to my coaching tree and expect her to flourish for my Alma mater that I love."

Olympians Sydney McLaughlin and Rai Benjamin are among the elite athletes Hayes is currently training. McLaughlin is the current world record holder in the 400m hurdles, and Benjamin ranks No. 2 in the world and No. 1 in the USA.

Hayes, who graduated from UCLA in 2001 with a bachelor's degree in sociology, resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Eric Thomas, and daughters, Zoe and Aly.


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