Jay Wright retires, Villanova names Kyle Neptune as replacement

by Trinity Cardinal


Villanova coach Jay Wright retired two weeks after his 21st season ended in his fourth Final Four.

Wright plans to move into a fundraising and advisory role at Villanova, where he won two national championships.

“Over the past 21 seasons, I have had the opportunity to live out a professional dream as the head coach at Villanova,” Wright said in a statement. “Patty and I have been blessed to work with incredible, gifted young men who allowed us to coach them and brought us unmatched joy. We cannot overstate our gratitude to the players, coaches, and administrators who have been with us on this path. It has been an honor and a privilege to work at Villanova, especially under Father Peter and Mark Jackson.”

“Now, though, it’s time for us to enter a new era of Villanova Basketball. After 35 years in coaching, I am proud and excited to hand over the reins to a member of our basketball family, Kyle Neptune. I am excited to remain a part of Villanova and look forward to working with Father Peter, Mark, and the rest of the leadership team. Once a Wildcat, always a Wildcat.”

In his new position, Wright will be involved in fundraising, advising, education, and more.

Wright is being replaced by former assistant Kyle Neptune, who was head coach at Fordham. Athletic director Mark Jackson said he met with several worthy candidates before selecting Neptune.

“Jay’s legacy at Villanova extends well beyond the numerous awards, accolades, and championships. He will be forever known to our community as Villanova‘s winningest coach, who did things the ‘Wright’ way, guiding, developing, and empowering the student-athletes who played for him to not only be better on the basketball court but in their personal lives,” Jackson said in a statement.

“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. 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, 60, called a team meeting to inform his players ahead of Thursday’s team awards banquet. Villanova won the national title in 2016 and 2018 under Wright. The Wildcats advanced to the Final Four this past season but lost in the semifinals to Kansas.

Wright has a 642-282 overall record in 28 seasons as a head coach, including a 520-197 mark at Villanova. He went 122-85 in seven seasons at Hofstra from 1994-2001, taking the Pride to two NCAA Tournaments.

Wright is a six-time Big East Coach of the Year and two-time Naismith Coach of the Year. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.

Neptune, 37, worked under Wright as a video coordinator from 2008-10. After spending three seasons as an assistant at Niagara, he returned to be an assistant at Villanova from 2013-21. Neptune served one season as head coach at Fordham, where he had a 16-16 record.

Copyright 2022 Thomson/Reuters