By Harvey Hoffman
We’re all still in various degrees of shock and befuddlement over Wednesday’s news that Jay Wright announced he is retiring after 21 seasons at Villanova.
The 60-year-old coached Hofstra from 1994 to 2001 before coming over to the Wildcats. Villanova’s remarkable 2005-06 season earned Wright his first of two Naismith Coach of the Year honors — but most of his accomplishments came late in his career.
Wright led Villanova to two national championships, four Final Fours, eight Big East regular-season titles, and five Big East tournament titles.
The Wildcats have been an NCAA men’s tournament staple, going 20-4 since 2016 — the most wins of any team in the country over that span.
He coached nine current NBA players, including Mikal Bridges, Jalen Brunson, and Kyle Lowry.
Wright was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2021.
With his $6.2 million salary, Wright was the nation’s fifth-highest-paid coach in his final season. His pay with the Wildcats increased several years ago after UCLA reportedly offered to double his wages, which were less than $4 million per season.
With Wright stepping away, Fordham head coach Kyle Neptune has been named Villanova’s next head coach.
Neptune was an assistant on Wright’s staff from 2013 to 2021 — which means he understands better than most the legacy he’s charged with maintaining.