Ball State's Billy Wright named Head Coach at Western Illinois


Ball State assistant men's basketball coach Billy Wright was introduced Tuesday as the new head men's basketball coach at Western Illinois.

Wright spent five years at Western Illinois, including three as associate head coach, before coming to Ball State for the 2013-14 campaign. He served as an assistant for the Cardinals this season under first-year head coach James Whitford.

"I am really happy for Billy and his wife Monica for this exciting new opportunity," Whitford said. "Billy did a tremendous job for us during his time here in Muncie, and this opportunity is a reflection of the great work he has done throughout his career. He is a talented coach, he is a terrific person, and he is going to do very well at Western Illinois."

Wright, a former Richmond High School and Bradley University standout, spent more than a decade coaching high school basketball in Indianapolis prior to his first stint at Western Illinois. He spent seven years at Pike High School, including the final two as head coach from 2006-08.

In his one year at Ball State, Wright helped the Cardinals secure an incoming recruiting class featuring three in-state products in Jeremie Tyler and Rashaun Richardson of Indianapolis Arsenal Tech and Sean Sellers of Greensburg.

"Ball State gave me an opportunity to move back home, closer to family," Wright said. "It was a great opportunity. I learned a lot in such a short time from head coach James Whitford. I learned a different way to teach the game of basketball, and I am very grateful for that opportunity."

Before coming to Ball State, Wright helped guide Western Illinois to the first two postseason appearances in its 30-year NCAA Division I history with College Basketball Invitational berths in both 2011-12 and 2012-13. The 2012-13 campaign was the best ever for the Leathernecks at the Division I level, including a 22-9 final record and a share of the Summit League regular season championship.

At Western Illinois, Wright will take over for Jim Molinari, his former boss with the Leathernecks and his college head coach at Bradley. Molinari, also a one-time Ball State assistant, resigned last week to become an assistant coach at Nebraska.