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Villanova head coach Jay Wright to step down

Wright, 60, won 520 games in his 21-year tenure at Villanova, turning the program into a college basketball powerhouse.

PHILADELPHIA — Villanova University men's basketball coach Jay Wright is stepping down, he announced on his Twitter page on Wednesday evening.

Sports Illustrated reports that Wright, 60, wrestled with the decision before deciding to move on. According to Andy Katz, it is believed that Wright will pursue a career in television, where he is expected to be highly coveted.

An accomplished coach known for taking the Wildcats to the next level, Wright helped develop current NBA players like Kyle Lowry, Josh Hart, Jalen Brunson, and Mikal Bridges. 

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.

During his 21-year tenure at Villanova, Wright won 520 games, led his team to four Final Four appearances, and won National Championships in 2016 and 2018.

In 2021, Wright was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

This past season, the Villanova Wildcats lost in the Final Four to the eventual champion Kansas Jayhawks. That will be the last game with Wright at the helm.

Wright posted the following statement on his Twitter page, and said that he was excited to hand over the program to its next coach:

While that statement doesn't directly name the next coach, Jon Rothstein of CBS Sports was one of the first to report that Fordham coach Kyle Neptune will be Wright's successor at Villanova.

Neptune, 37, previously spent eight years under Wright as an assistant coach, and went 16-16 in his first season as Fordham's coach. During this season, Fordham matched the program's highest conference win total in 15 years.

“When looking for a successor, we wanted a candidate who could navigate the changing landscape of collegiate athletics and keep Villanova in a position of strength — now and in the future,” Villanova athletic director Mark Jackson said. “After meeting with several exceptional candidates, we found all those attributes and more in Kyle Neptune. Kyle quickly stood out for his basketball knowledge, recruiting savvy and natural ability to connect with student-athletes and coaches.” 

Wright will remain at Villanova and stay involved in fundraising, advising, education and more.

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 is the second high profile coach to retire after this season, following Duke's Mike Kryzewski following his team's Final Four run. 

“Simply a remarkable career,” said former Villanova AD Vince Nicastro, who hired Wright. “Will be regarded as one of the best coaches in college basketball history - and even better person. Has won with integrity, class and grace. And has served as a great role model for his players and colleagues.” 

Wright was scheduled to discuss his decision at a press conference on Friday.

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