Jay Wright, Corridor of Fame Villanova Basketball Coach, Retires

Jay Wright’s storied run at Villanova has come to an finish.

In asserting his retirement Wednesday after 21 seasons at Villanova, Wright, 60, leaves males’s faculty basketball at a comparatively younger age and on the prime of his career. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Corridor of Fame final 12 months. He has gained two Division I nationwide championships prior to now seven seasons. And he was the fifth-highest-paid coach by whole pay this previous season, in accordance with the USA TODAY Sports activities wage database, at greater than $ 6 million.

Wright, whose look and elegance have earned him comparisons to actor George Clooney, guided Villanova to 4 Ultimate Fours and 5 Huge East Convention match titles prior to now 14 seasons. He most lately led the Wildcats to this 12 months’s Ultimate 4, the place they misplaced to Kansas, the eventual nationwide champion, in a nationwide semifinal.

A head coach since 1994, Wright compiled a document of 642-282 (.695) throughout his profession at Hofstra and Villanova, the place he had coached since 2001.

Kyle Neptune, 37, will succeed Wright at Villanova, the college introduced. A longtime assistant of Wright’s earlier than leaving to teach Fordham, Neptune posted a 16-16 document within the 2021-22 season, his solely 12 months with the Rams. With the additions of Neptune and Shaheen Holloway at Seton Corridor, the Huge East now has seven African American head coaches amongst its 11 applications, greater than in any Energy 5 convention and matching the American Athletic Convention. Fordham named affiliate head coach Keith Urgo because the interim head coach and stated it will conduct a nationwide seek for Neptune’s substitute.

Wright will stay at Villanova in a job with fund-raising, instructional and advisory elements.

“Patty and I’ve been blessed to work with unbelievable, gifted younger males who allowed us to teach them and introduced us unmatched pleasure,” Wright stated, referring to his spouse. “We can not overstate our gratitude to the gamers, coaches, and directors who’ve been with us on this path.”

Wright turns into the third high-profile Division I males’s basketball coach to retire within the final two years, following Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who retired following a run to this 12 months’s Ultimate 4, and North Carolina’s Roy Williams, who retired after the 2020-21 season . Wright is considerably youthful than each these males. Krzyzewski is 75 and Williams was 70 when he retired.

Krzyzewski gained 5 nationwide championships and Williams three. Earlier than retiring, Wright’s two titles tied him with Kansas’ Invoice Self amongst energetic coaches. Iona’s Rick Pitino gained titles at Kentucky and Louisville, however the latter, gained in 2013, was later vacated by the NCAA

“I am undoubtedly shocked,” Williams, whose Tar Heels misplaced to Villanova within the 2016 NCAA championship recreation on a last-second 3-pointer by Kris Jenkins, stated in a phone interview.

He added: “Jay is simply 60, he is bought a lot extra time for the sport, however I find it irresistible as a result of he made the choice for what was proper for him and his household and I can dwell with that. Jay’s one of many giants of our recreation, he is an amazing pal. ”

Williams recalled that after Villanova shocked North Carolina 77-74 to win the title in Houston, Williams waited for the Villanova gamers and coaches to congratulate Wright earlier than his second with Wright.

“I instructed him, ‘I am very blissful for you. I am destroyed for my group however I am very blissful for you, ” Williams stated. “And Jay known as me again a few days later and stated how a lot that meant to him. And he is an amazing man. He is one of many giants of our recreation. ”

When the unique iteration of the Huge East cut up aside in 2013, with universities with top-level soccer applications like Syracuse, Louisville, Connecticut and West Virginia departing for different leagues, Wright helped maintain the “new Huge East” collectively: He coalesced the coaches below his management with a imaginative and prescient to construct a basketball-centric league that might compete with Energy 5 colleges that characteristic each basketball and soccer.

“Clearly, he is been terrific,” Creighton coach Greg McDermott stated in a telephone interview. “His management when the Huge East was form of reformed, I feel is the rationale why the league is the place it is at as we speak. He was all in from the start in ensuring this was going to work and was definitely a giant a part of it. ”

Wright leaves simply as two of his most achieved gamers, Collin Gillespie and Jermaine Samuels, completed their careers after 5 years because of the additional 12 months of eligibility granted to athletes by the NCAA within the wake of the pandemic. He praised each gamers after their season-ending loss to Kansas.

“At Villanova, the college’s mission is about neighborhood and love and reality,” Wright stated. He added of Gillespie: “He is a Villanova man. He is an amazing Villanova man. And that is a giant a part of our program. It isn’t simply being a basketball participant however being a Villanova man. And he is among the best ever. ”

If Gillespie, a two-time Huge East participant of the 12 months, goes on to play within the NBA subsequent season, he would turn out to be the league’s tenth energetic former Villanova participant. The group contains Miami’s Kyle Lowry, a six-time All-Star; Dallas’ Jalen Brunson, who scored 41 factors in a playoff recreation this week; and Phoenix’s Mikal Bridges, a Defensive Participant of the 12 months finalist.

It’s a testomony to participant improvement below Wright and his employees that not a single energetic NBA participant from Villanova was a one-and-done.

“Everybody ought to applaud what they’ve constructed there,” Self stated earlier than the Ultimate 4. “And naturally, Jay’s the ringmaster of that. You bought to beat them, they don’t beat themselves. ”

Recognized for his fashionable costume fits for years, Wright loved not having to put on them within the relaxed ambiance within the pandemic, and as a substitute wore three-quarter zips and sweatpants. He stated on the Ultimate 4 that he didn’t pack a single swimsuit for the journey to New Orleans.

With retirement looming, Wright is not going to should put on a swimsuit anytime quickly.

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