PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Jay Wright, the Villanova basketball coach who led the Wildcats to two national championships and four Final Fours, stunned college basketball with his resignation Wednesday night.
The 60-year-old Wright guided Villanova to titles in 2016 and 2018 and just led the Wildcats to the Final Four, where they lost to national champion Kansas. He went 520-197 in 21 seasons at the school and 642-282 overall, also coaching Hofstra from 1994–2001.
“It’s time for us to enter a new era of Villanova basketball,” Wright said in a statement. “After 35 years in coaching, I am proud and excited to hand over the reins to Villanova’s next coach. I am excited to remain a part of Villanova and look forward to working with (Villanova) and the rest of the leadership team.”
Kyle Neptune, who served on the Villanova coaching staff before accepting the head coaching position at Fordham in 2021, returned to replace Wright.
Wright’s decision was unexpected and there was no immediate word the move was health related or that he was leaving for the NBA. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011.
Before he arrived, Villanova was known for upsetting Georgetown in the 1985 national championship game and the occasional trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Wright needed three years to build a foundation before Villanova broke through with a trip to the 2005 Sweet 16. An Elite Eight appearance followed the next year and the Wildcats reached the Final Four in 2009.
Villanova won its first national title under Wright in 2016 on Kris Jenkins’ buzzer-beater and decimated the NCAA Tournament field in 2018, winning every game by double digits on its way to the national title.
He was selected AP coach of the decade in 2020.
The 37-year-old Neptune was on Wright’s staff for the 2009 Final Four team. He went 16-16 in his lone season at Fordham.
Wright’s decision comes after another successful season:
– He reached 25 or more victories for the 10th time in his 22 seasons.
— The Wildcats have won a regular-season or postseason conference championship in each of the nine seasons since the Big East reconfigured in 2013.
— The Wildcats earned a No. 1 or no. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the eighth time under Wright.
During Wright’s tenure, he coached several future NBA stars, including Kyle Lowry, Jalen Brunson, Mikal Bridges, and Saddiq Bey.
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