As Villanova students prepared Wednesday night for finals week, their phones began lighting up with rumors of beloved basketball coach Jay Wright’s likely retirement.

Wright’s eventual confirmation of retirement kickstarted a sort of grieving process for students.

“It’s like when your favorite teacher retires,” said Justin Pritikin, the senior manager of the basketball team who has spent the past four years with Wright’s program. “You’re like, ‘Wow, I wish everyone could have had that experience.’”

» READ MORE: Who is Kyle Neptune? Getting to know the coach who will succeed Jay Wright at Villanova.

Many students like senior Nelya Naida, a captain of the cheer team, still are processing the news.

“I was definitely shocked,” Naida said. “Over the last four years, there have always been typical rumors that Jay Wright was retiring, so it just became a joke in my head, but it actually came to life. So it’s still that kind of limbo feeling.”

Michael Bradley, a professor in the communication department and national writer and broadcaster, initially was shocked but thinks it’s a decision that makes sense, given how much time and work Wright has put into the program.

“People don’t realize coaching college basketball is a full-time job,” Bradley said. “And while 60 is the new 40, he’s been doing this for a long time.”

Freshman Rowan Fossella said students around her were distraught when the rumors started Wednesday evening.

» READ MORE: Jay Wright is too good for college basketball, and the NBA

“When the news came out everyone was screaming in Stanford (a freshman dorm), especially when it wasn’t confirmed yet,” she said.

Pritikin said he worked with Wright’s successor, Fordham coach Kyle Neptune, for three years when Neptune was an assistant at Villanova.

“He is awesome,” Pritikin said. “Everyone loves him. Super smart, charismatic guy, he’s going to crush it. So, it sucks that [Wright] is leaving, but I’m at peace.”

Wright’s positive impact on campus extends beyond successful runs in the NCAA Tournament. Bradley believes that while students picked Villanova because it’s a strong university, a lot of them also came here for the basketball aspect.

» READ MORE: A year-by-year breakdown of Jay Wright’s career, from building at Hofstra to dominating at Villanova

“This is a very big loss for the institution, not just the basketball program,” Bradley said.

Wright still will be involved with Villanova, just not on the basketball court. He will stay on as special assistant to the president, Father Peter Donohue, and will be involved in “fundraising, advising, education and more for the university,” according to a statement by the school.

Junior Mike Perretta, the son of former Villanova women’s basketball coach Harry Perretta, believes Villanova culture extends beyond Wright.

“He is not the only part of Villanova culture, and Villanova culture will continue without him as head coach,” Perretta said. “Kyle Neptune coached here. He knows the culture, and it will continue with him as a coach.”