Wright Leaves Lasting Imprint on Villanova


Courtesy of Olivia Pasquale/Villanovan Photography

Jay Wright went 520–197 (.725) during his time at Villanova.

Catherine Browne, Staff Writer

Twenty-one years ago, a young, albeit somewhat experienced man walked onto Villanova University’s basketball court preparing for his first game as head coach. Now, in 2022, the same man has walked off the same court as a wise and prominent figure for the last time as Villanova’s head coach, leaving behind a legacy far greater than himself. 

The year 2001 not only marked a new beginning for Jay Wright’s coaching career, but also opened the door to a new era of Villanova basketball. Since 2001, Villanova has never been the same, and it is forever changed under Wright’s legacy. 

For the past 21 years, Wright has become the heart and soul of Villanova basketball. Over the years, he has accumulated many honors and awards proving his success. He led the team to two National Championships, eight Big East Tournament Titles, along with four Final Four appearances and eight Sweet 16 appearances. 

As for his recognition as a coach, he has been named Big East Coach of the Year six times, is a two time Naismith Coach of the Year, two time NABC Coach of the Year, two time American East Coach of the year while at Hofstra and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in the Class of 2021. 

The list of Wright’s achievements can go on. However, one’s legacy is not only measured by their many accolades, but rather the purposeful life of an individual and the indelible impact it leaves on others. In Wright’s case, over the past 21 years, he has successfully created a legacy for himself that will live on forever within the greater Villanova community. 

Wright did not become the most well-known college basketball coach through the statistics written on a spreadsheet. Rather, it is the unwritten moments that occurred between each one of those games. He was committed to guiding each one of his players to grow as athletes on the court. He encouraged that influence to extend off the court as he mentored his players in growing as a son, brother, friend and a future husband and father. He is the coach every player dreams of playing for. Just as University President Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A., Ph.D. said in Wright’s final press conference regarding his retirement, “[Wright] did things the Wright way.”

Wright recruited the “diamonds in the rough” and dedicated himself to creating a team of true Villanovans. He was not only the Villanova basketball coach, but he took on the role of mentor and welcomed each player into his own family with his wife, Patty, and three children. 

In 2017, Wright exposed to the world that on top of his natural abilities of coaching, he is also a New York Times bestselling author, when he published his book “Attitude: Develop a Mindset On and Off the Court.” This book contains Wright’s philosophy of building a leader, writing that “Villanova’s core values provide a positive blueprint for transformational team building based on the ideas that everyone – from the head coach to the last player on the bench – can be a leader when the moment demands it.” Wright’s perspective on leadership and success is evident off the pages of his book as he practices what he preaches. His recruitment process, coaching style and Villanova spirit is all rooted in the prevalence of “Attitude.” 

Many Villanovan’s have grown up supporting Villanova basketball and have connected their memories of the sport with a singular name, Wright. Many remember him as the Wright humbly standing on the sidelines dressed in his finely fashioned and pristinely fitted suits; the Wright proudly leading his team with V’s pumping in the air as they enter into each game; the Wright who stood stoic as Kris Jenkins made a buzzer beater three-point shot to win the National Championship in 2016; the Wright who has defined the culture of college basketball and the purpose of the Villanova community for 21 years. 

Words may fall short to accurately describe Wright’s profound influence. However, it is evident through his unending impact on the entire Villanova community that spans the globe. His work and commitment to the team has allowed fans to watch the basketball program flourish under his leadership.

Coach Wright may be retiring from his head coach position, but the legacy he leaves on this community and beyond will forever be a part of this University. As he always says, “Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.”    

As Wright extended his final bow as a head coach, each and every fan and supporter from the past 21 years clearly recognizes the immeasurable legacy that he created and leaves behind on the basketball court.

In his final press conference on Friday, Wright said with tear filled eyes and a quiver in his voice, “Good endings lead to good beginnings.” Wright may be leaving a hole in the hearts of all Villanova players, staff, colleagues and fans, both young and old, but his traditions, style and level of excellence will forever be felt on the hallowed parquet planks and in the fabric of Nova Nation forever. 

Nova Nation extends the most love and appreciation to you, Coach Wright. 

You can take Wright out of Villanova basketball, but you can never take Villanova basketball out of Wright.