Villanova Coach Jay Wright 2017 Commencement Speaker
January 10, 2017 – At today’s Morning Meeting, Head of School Craig Gemmell announced that Villanova University Head Men’s Basketball Coach Jay Wright will deliver the commencement address to Brewster’s Class of 2017 in May.
The announcement actually came directly (via video) from the basketball court of the 2015-2016 NCAA Champions. Sean Cassidy (Brewster ’14, Villanova ’18), a Curvey Scholar while at Brewster and current facilities attendant with Villanova Athletic Operations, shared this video with the community.
Over the course of 15 seasons as Villanova’s head coach, Wright has steered the Wildcats to new plateaus featuring multiple highlights, including the 2015-2016 NCAA Championship. In this game the Wildcats and North Carolina Tar Heels were tied at 74 with 4.7 seconds left in regulation, when Villanova’s Kris Jenkins executed a buzzer-beater for the ages. Jenkins calmly stepped into the 3-pointer and it dropped into the net as the horn sounded giving the Wildcats a 77-74 victory. The triumph, Villanova’s 35th of the season, lifted the Wildcats to the school’s second NCAA championship and Wright’s first.
Under the direction of Wright, the Wildcats have advanced to the NCAA Tournament in 11 of the past 12 seasons, and over the last three seasons, Villanova has won more games than any program in America (97-13).
Among Wright’s honors and accolades are twice being named the Naismith National Coach of the Year, most recently in 2016 and being named BIG EAST Coach of the year five times over the last 10 years.
Wright was named head coach at Villanova on March 27, 2001. In that stretch there have been 20 NCAA Tournament victories that have featured five trips to the NCAA Sweet 16, three visits to the NCAA Elite Eight and a pair of NCAA Final Four appearances (2009 and 2016).
Every one of Wright’s players who has spent four years in the program has earned his degree at Villanova. As head coach one of Wright’s first priorities was to reach out to former Wildcat players to ensure that they remain an active part of the program. The phrase “Once a Wildcat, Always a Wildcat” is part of the lexicon at Villanova and symbolizes the essential role basketball alumni play in the program.
Wright’s coaching is not limited to the Wildcats. He also works with USA Basketball and served with the University of Washington’s Lorenzo Romar as the co-coach of the USA Select Team in the summer of 2010, which scrimmaged against the USA National Team in advance of the World Championships. In August 2005 he was head coach for the United States’ entry in the World University Games, which earned a gold medal. Team USA was dominant in amassing an 8-0 record and for his efforts Wright was named USA Basketball Co-Developmental Coach of the Year. In summer 2007, he coached the United States’ entry in the Pan American Games, leading the squad to a 3-2 record.
Wright, who is from Churchville, Pa., is 1983 graduate of Bucknell University with degrees in economics and sociology. He was a four-year letterman in basketball and earned both the Benton A. Kribbs Most Valuable Player and the Macolm E. Musser Leadership awards as an undergraduate. Following graduation, Wright worked as an administrative assistant with the Philadelphia Stars team that captured the 1984 United States Football League championship. Wright’s coaching career began in 1984 at the University of Rochester followed by a season at Drexel University (1985-1986) and then assistant positions at Villanova and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. In 1994, he landed his first head coaching position at Hofstra University and transformed the Pride into a potent force in the America East Conference where he stayed until 2001.
The Brewster community looks forward to welcoming the highly accomplished Jay Wright to Bobcat Nation in May.