Wright, 60, had struggled with the decision privately throughout the offseason, according to people with knowledge of the situation. Illustrated sports. Ultimately, the Hall of Fame coach opted to move on, a decision that will ripple through a sport already experiencing a lot of coaching turnover.
Known for his brilliant offensive mind, his ability to develop guards and, until recently, his dapper touch outfit, Wright rose through the ranks from a Division III assistant to one of the sport’s most recognizable names. During his 21 years at Villanova, Wright won 520 games, appeared in four Final Fours and won national championships in 2016 and 2018.
Once known as one of the best coaches in the sport without a national title, Wright finally overcame that mountain with a buzzer win over North Carolina in 2016. He then led the Wildcats to their second title in three seasons dominantly over Michigan in 2018 title game. Wright also won a gold medal at the 2020 Olympics as an assistant coach under Gregg Popovich and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.
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Villanova is expected to take Wright’s seat with Fordham coach Kyle Neptune, reports Jon Rothstein. Neptune, 37, spent eight years under Wright as an assistant coach, including both national championships. He went 16-16 in his first season at the helm of Fordham and tied the program’s highest conference win total in 15 years. A native of Brooklyn with deep ties to the Northeast, Neptune is known as an accomplished recruiter and sharp tactician.
Wright’s decision is the latest in a string of high profile names leaving the profession in recent years. Men’s basketball’s all-time winningest coach Mike Krzyzewski coached his final season in 2021–22, while longtime North Carolina coach Roy Williams stepped down after 2020–21 and was replaced internally by Hubert Davis. Lon Kruger, who won 674 games in his career, also retired last spring. In fact, many coaches over the past year have shared privately that they expect Wright to help lead the sport through a period of leadership transition without Williams and Krzyzewski at the top. Instead, Wright will join them outside to look inside.
With these recent retirements, the only two active male coaches with multiple NCAA championships to their name are Bill Self (Kansas) and Rick Pitino (Iona), although Pitino’s second championship was vacated by the NCAA.
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