Jay Wright, who won two national championships at Villanova, guided the Wildcats to four Final Four appearances — including one earlier this month — and is arguably the greatest coach in Philadelphia college basketball history, is retiring from coaching. On Friday, Villanova held a press conference bidding farewell to their longtime coach and introducing his successor.
When did Wright announce his retirement?
Wright, 60, held a team meeting at 8 p.m. Wednesday, according to one source, to inform his players of the decision. The source added that Wright’s decision had been several weeks in the making. The Athletic was the first to report that Wright was likely to retire.
How did Wright announce his retirement?
Following his meeting with his players and assistants, Wright publicly made an announcement on Twitter. It said:
Why did Wright retire?
Wright revealed on Friday during his farewell press conference that he had actually known for some time that he was going to hang it up following this season.
Did Wright’s decision have anything to do with the transfer portal or NIL deals?
According to the now-former Villanova coach, the recent changes to the college basketball landscape did play a role in his decision to retire, but not in the way some might think. Wright said Friday that he was in favor of player empowerment in college sports — which isn’t a big surprise if you’ve been following his career.
“I think those changes are eventually going to be really good for college basketball,” Wright said. “We talked with our team about, I am so impressed with how we handled NIL as a team. Some of our guys made some really good money, and they had 3.8 GPAs and they went to a Final Four... So I’m excited about that going forward.”
Despite that, Wright said incoming head coach Kyle Neptune and the rest of the Villanova coach staff are on “another level” when it comes to dealing with NILs.
What was Wright’s record as a coach?
Here’s a season-by-season look at Wright’s career record as a head coach, dating back to his first year at Hofstra in 1994 and going through his final tourney run at ‘Nova, where he finished as the program’s winningest coach.
Not only did he have a great record, he was known for sporting some spectacular suits on the sidelines and looking great while winning.
What is next for Wright?
In the immediate aftermath of the stunning announcement that Wright was retiring, there was a lot of speculation that perhaps he would be heading to the NBA — something that had become commonplace whenever a job would open that could possibly tempt Wright to leave the Main Line. But according to Wright, that’s not the plan. In fact, he’s sticking around at Villanova as an ambassador and is looking forward to continue working with the players.
“I’ve really been focused on completing this, but I know I’m going to miss the games, I know I’m going to miss the competitiveness, I know I’m going to miss the practices,” Wright said. “Kind of what I’m excited about — and I’ve talked to some of the guys about this — I love the relationship with the players, and I’ve kind of felt like the last few years my energy level has been committed to basketball and recruiting and NIL and not as much the relationship with the players.
“So, if they’ll still talk to me, I really look forward to going to breakfast with these guys, going to lunch with these guys, and not having to yell at Eric Dixon about being in his stance. I can actually talk to him about life and let Kyle yell at him about that. I really look forward to that part of the relationship with the guys.
“You know, I used to watch Coach [Rollie] Massimino come around and tap the guys on the shoulder and be all nice, and these guys would all tell me, ‘I love Coach Massimino.’ And I’d be like, ‘That’s not the guy I worked for, he’s not that nice of a guy.’ [laughs] So I hope they don’t do that to me, but I do look forward to those relationships with the guys.”
» READ MORE: Jay Wright’s 9 most notable wins at Villanova
Who is Kyle Neptune, Wright’s replacement?
Kyle Neptune spent eight seasons as an assistant coach at Villanova under Wright.
Neptune was away from Villanova for one season, but it was a significant one for the Fordham program. He built the culture and chemistry mostly from scratch, making liberal use of the transfer portal and led the Rams to a 16-16 record, a 14-win improvement from their 2-12 mark of the previous year.
What does Neptune have to say about Wright’s leadership?
In the past, Neptune has discussed the major factors leading to his former team’s success, starting, of course, at the top.
“It’s Jay Wright and the program that he’s built,” Neptune said in a CBS Sports Radio interview. “He’s such a unique person. Villanova is also such a unique place in that there’s many people there that are very supportive. I think the school is so invested in the success.
“I think the athletic director, Mark Jackson, has had a huge piece in this run as well. But coach Wright has been … he’s unbelievable. He’s just so good at so many different things. I really attribute a lot of their success to him and the players that have come through there.”
How much did Neptune learn from Wright?
Now, it will be Neptune’s program to run. And he said on Friday that Wright’s impact on him is second only to his parents.
“What you do as a person far, far exceeds what you’ve done as a coach, which is amazing,” Neptune told Wright during his introductory press conference. “Just mentoring all of us and being a great example of who to be as a person. That’s meant so much to me throughout the years. Besides my family and my mom and dad right here, you’re probably the biggest influence in my life, so thank you very much...
”One of the things that Coach Wright always says is that everyone’s role is different but everyone’s status is the same. My role now is just a standard bearer for Villanova basketball. I think my job now is to make sure we keep this culture together, make sure we hold this high standard of what Coach has created here. I can’t wait to do it and I’m ready to get going.”