Outgoing Villanova University basketball coach Jay Wright, a rock star of sorts in the college sports world, was named Thursday as the school’s commencement speaker.
Wright, the winningest coach in Villanova history, will address graduates during the ceremony at 2:30 p.m. on May 13 in Villanova Stadium, the school announced. He also will receive an honorary doctorate.
Given the uncertainty of the pandemic, Villanova hadn’t planned on having a commencement speaker, university spokesperson Jonathan Gust said.
But then the university decided to tap Wright, who announced his retirement as head basketball coach earlier this month, given his contributions to the university, both academically and athletically.
“This recognizes the impact he has and gives him the opportunity to share his own message with the 2022 graduates,” Gust said.
Wright began coaching the Wildcats in 2001, recording a 520-197 record over his 21 years as coach. The team won two NCAA national championships, in 2016 and 2018, and in the most recent season made it to the Final Four.
The team, like other Villanova athletics teams, also has performed well in the classroom, maintaining above a 3.0 GPA.
Wright has a string of accolades including being named the Associated Press Men’s Basketball Coach of the Decade in 2020. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame last September.
Wright will have a new role as special assistant to the president, helping with fund-raising, advising and other tasks, the university said.