| MBB/WBB Villanova's Jay Wright expected to retire as head coach; Kyle Neptune likely to take over


Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright is expected to retire after 21 seasons as head men's basketball coach at Villanova, sources confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.

Fordham's Kyle Neptune, who spent 10 years under Wright as a video coordinator and an assistant coach, is expected to be named his successor, sources said.

Wright has called a team meeting for Wednesday night, according to sources.

Wright, 60, has been the head coach at Villanova since 2001. He won two national championships, in 2016 and '18, and made four Final Four appearances, including one this past season. He was named Naismith Coach of the Year in 2006 and '16, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.

Wright has been solicited for several NBA jobs through the years, but sources told ESPN on Wednesday that Wright's intention is to retire from coaching, not only Villanova. Wright enjoyed his experience coaching Team USA under Gregg Popovich in recent years, but becoming an NBA head coach has held increasingly less appeal with him, sources said. He listened to overtures but never seriously considered leaving Villanova for any of them.

Wright started to share with close friends on Tuesday night that he was eager to move on to the next phase of his life without coaching, according to sources.

"He's fully at peace with the decision," a source close to Wright told ESPN on Wednesday night.

Neptune, Wright's expected successor, has been the head coach at Fordham for one season. He led the Rams to a 16-16 campaign, a 14-win improvement on their 2020-21 season.

The news of Wright's expected retirement, which was first reported by The Athletic, sent shock waves through the college basketball world, where Wright is among the most respected coaches. With the recent retirement of Mike Krzyzewski, Wright was one of just three active coaches to have won multiple national titles. (Bill Self and Rick Pitino are the others.)

"It's a tremendous loss for college basketball," Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim told ESPN, adding that Wright "absolutely" is one of the best coaches of the modern era.

Boeheim was among the many coaches contacted by ESPN who were stunned by the news. Notre Dame coach Mike Brey also said he was surprised.

"He has really achieved it all and done it all with class," Brey told ESPN. "It's a big loss for the college game."

Wright's wins, titles and accomplishments speak for themselves. But the theme going through the sport on Wednesday was the way that Wright handled himself.

"I've known Jay his entire coaching career," former Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese told ESPN. "He is a great coach but a better person."

Former Villanova player and assistant coach Baker Dunleavy echoed that notion, saying that Wright's legacy and work at Villanova will reverberate through all the players and coaches he worked with.


"Coach Wright's true legacy will not be his championships," said Dunleavy, now the head coach at Quinnipiac University. "His legacy is the set of values he has instilled in his coaches and players. Those are obvious watching a Villanova game -- and more importantly meeting a Villanova player. To him that is the most significant mark he could leave. We are all proud to be associated with him."

Wright went 520-197 during his 21 seasons with the Wildcats, winning at least 30 games on six occasions, the sixth-most 30-win seasons in men's Division I history. He won eight Big East regular-season titles and five Big East conference tournament championships.

Before taking over at Villanova, Wright was the head coach at Hofstra for seven seasons, winning two America East championships and making two NCAA tournament appearances.
 

Rolltide24

Century Club
Big loss there, for the sport. I’ve respected his coaching and success over the years.

On a side note, just opened my ESPN app to see today’s scores and caught one of the new retirees photo-bombing at a playoff matchup. Checking out a couple of his former stars, it appears. I guess he was pulling for Kyrie and not Tatum…

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