Jay Wright: Villanova’s Real Mascot


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

Jay Wright announced his retirement on Wednesday night.

Chloe Miller, Co-Culture Editor

Jay Wright is at the core of Villanova. 

He may be known for his pin-striped suits, two national championship wins, and unbelievable skill at making NBA stars, but most importantly he is known for being the heart and soul of the University.

The news of Wright’s retirement shocked campus. There was no retirement tour like the one from Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, and the news broke before Wright was even able to announce it to his players. While this is clearly a big hit for Villanova basketball in a strictly sporting sense, the campus mourning has affected those who don’t know the first thing about basketball. 

So why is Wright’s retirement causing such grief on campus? The answer is simple: Wright is far more than a basketball coach, he is the model of Villanova’s community on and off the court. 

In almost every news article written about Wright, there is one word that is always included: culture. 

“After we won in 2016, the goal wasn’t to win another [national title],” Wright said. “The goal was to keep our culture strong. We knew that for us, that was the best chance of winning it again. If we tried to win it another way, we weren’t going to win it anyway.”

For Wright, a win meant nothing if the team’s community was broken down. During his 21 seasons as head coach, Wright created a specific and targeted culture of humility and collaboration, one that mimics exactly what Villanova stands for as a university. 

Villanova is built upon Saint Augustine’s values of Unitas, Caritas, and Veritas. In his inaugural address, Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A, Ph.D, stated that all decisions are “to be framed within these values,” and that Villanovans must “take them into our hands [as clay] and knead them into all that we do.” Wright has done just that. 

“As Villanova students, the ideas of Unitas, Caritas, and Veritas have been drilled into our heads from day one,” sophomore Julia O’Keefe said. “It’s nice to see that these ideas are lived out. One of those ways is definitely by the leadership of Jay. He is a lot more to this campus than just a coach.”

The community and tight-knit bonds Wright has been able to establish among players are microcosms of the culture of Villanova as a whole. Wright’s team has created models for all students and alumni to live by.

“It’s no surprise that this school and the basketball team have such a feeling of togetherness,” student Alex Tessendorf said. “Jay Wright has created such a unique culture here that represents exactly what the school stands for, and I think that is really special.”

While Wright created this culture for students and players alike, he also embodied it in his everyday interactions. Eric Dixon’s father, Eric Dixon Sr., reflected on Wright’s character on Twitter following his retirement announcement.

“Jay Wright is a good dude,” Dixon tweeted. “He rarely called me as a parent of a player (didn’t need him to), but he did call me as a friend to wish me well on occasion, like when I went into the hospital for a cardiac arrest scare. Jay the man > Coach Wright & you all know how good he is.”

Twitter was flooded on Wednesday night with current and former players, Villanova alumni, fans and students all sharing their praise for Coach Wright. 

“Thanks @VUCoachJWright for the lifelong memories and turning #Villanova into a basketball powerhouse,” tweeted alumni Sean Matthew (‘09). “Words can’t express how grateful I am for your tenure at our wonderful university. Cheers to a happy retirement!”

GQ Jay is the hallmark and face of Villanova. On any given day there is a high likelihood one can find a student on campus decked out in “All Wright, All Wright, All Wright” merchandise. 

When talking about Villanova, Wright famously stated “My family’s here. I’m from here. It just doesn’t get any better.” Thankfully, Villanova will still be an integral part of Wright’s life as he assumes the position of Special Assistant to the President. 

Although students know and love Will D. Cat, Wright has become Villanova’s unofficial mascot. He embodies exactly what it means to be a Villanovan in all aspects of life. Wright may be leaving Villanova basketball, but his lessons will continue to define the university.