Jones is returning to his alma mater to become Arizona State’s seventh wrestling coach.

Jeff Metcalfe, azcentral sports 3:48 p.m. MST April 9, 2014

Jones is returning to his alma mater to become Arizona State’s seventh wrestling coach.

Jones, considered the top candidate for the job since Shawn Charles resigned last week, is leaving his job as USA Wrestling national freestyle coach for ASU, where he was a three-time All-American and on the 1988 national-championship team.

“It was always my goal to come back to college wrestling,” said the 47-year-old Jones, who has been with USA Wrestling since 2009. “Six years ago, (USA Wrestling Executive Director) Rich Bender and I talked about serving our country and getting our freestyle program back on track. I wanted to take on that challenge. I feel we are at a better place than we were. Now I am ready for a new challenge, helping elevate Arizona State’s program into one of the best in the country.”

Jones is the first hire for new ASU Vice President for Athletics Ray Anderson. Jones was a 1992 Olympic silver medalist, the 1991 world champion and has been on the U.S. Olympic coaching staff since 2004.

He also was the coach at the University of Pennsylvania and an assistant at West Virgina, ASU and Bloomsburg. He is a member of the ASU Sports Hall of Fame.

“This is a positive step forward for wrestling in America. The USA freestyle program is heading in a great direction, thanks to Zeke’s efforts. The storied program at Arizona State will get a great leader to strengthen an important college program for the future. We are grateful for Zeke Jones’ passion and commitment for USA Wrestling and the national freestyle program, and we wish him great success with his new opportunity,” said Bender.

Jones will be formally introduced at a news conference Thursday.

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