Apr 21, 2022 - Sports

Villanova's Jay Wright stuns college basketball with retirement

Jay Wright cuts down the net after beating Houston in the Elite Eight last month.

Jay Wright cuts down the net after beating Houston in the Elite Eight last month. Photo: Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Jay Wright stunned the college basketball world on Wednesday, announcing his retirement after 21 seasons, 520 wins, two national championships and four Final Fours at Villanova.

Why it matters: Wright leaves at the top of his profession. He was the fifth-highest paid coach this past season ($6+ million) and guided the Wildcats to the Final Four just three weeks ago.

  • Villanova has won 20 NCAA tournament games since 2016, the most of any school. Since 2009, they've earned a No. 1 or 2 seed seven times, a rock of consistency.
  • They've won 30+ games in five of the last eight seasons, and two of the years they didn't were either postponed or shortened by COVID-19.

What they're saying: "Over the past 21 seasons, I have had the opportunity to live out a professional dream as the head coach at Villanova. Patty and I have been blessed to work with incredible, gifted young men who allowed us to coach them and brought us unmatched joy," Wright said in a tweet.

The big picture: Wright is the third high-profile D-I men's basketball coach to retire in the past 13 months, following Duke's Mike Krzyzewski and UNC's Roy Williams. Wright, 60, is by far the youngest. Krzyzewski is 75 and Williams was 70 when he retired.

  • Their departures leave college basketball without three powerful voices as the sport navigates the brave new world of NIL, the transfer portal and a revamped NCAA structure.
  • "Wright ... was considered among the leaders in position to help college hoops define its future, largely because his program has somehow managed to fly above the storm clouds," writes The Athletic's Dana O'Neil.

What's next: Kyle Neptune, 37, will be Villanova's next head coach. He was a longtime Wright assistant before leaving to coach Fordham, where he went 16-16 last season.

  • "He was always the guy I could rely on for some out-of-the-box thinking, a really bright X's and O's guy," Wright said of Neptune last September.
  • With the additions of Neptune and Shaheen Holloway (Seton Hall), the Big East has seven Black head coaches among its 11 teams, by far the most among major conferences.
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