Man of Substance: Why We Love Villanova Coach Jay Wright
Nova's men’s basketball coach is more than just a pretty face. He knows it, and so should you. We've got the expanded web story on this powerhouse right here.
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Wright received the call from Villanova athletic director Vince Nicastro on a Saturday morning, a day before he was scheduled to visit Piscataway, N.J., to lock up the deal with the Scarlet Knights. He and his agent met with Nicastro and then-Villanova president Father Edmund Dobbin that day at Olga’s Diner in Marlton, N.J. “I took it on the spot,” Wright says. “I grew up here; Patty grew up in South Jersey. It’s Villanova.”
He tried to call Rutgers’s then-athletic director, Bob Mulcahy, to tell him about the offer, but he couldn’t reach him. So, a day after accepting the Villanova gig, Wright drove to Rutgers for what was supposed to be a perfunctory meeting with Mulcahy and the school’s president, Francis Lawrence, to finalize things. When he arrived, there was a surprise waiting for him: Rutgers football coach Greg Schiano, a fellow Bucknell alum. Mulcahy wanted the two to get acquainted before the school announced the hiring of its new men’s basketball coach. “I tell Mulcahy, ‘I have to talk to you,’” Wright says. “He says, ‘No, meet with Greg first.’”
Wright walked into the room, shook Schiano’s hand and said he was going to Villanova. The two talked for a bit, just to keep up appearances, before Wright delivered the news to Mulcahy. He was going home.
A child of the ’70s, Wright admits that he once owned a brown leisure suit. He even had the platform shoes and print shirt that went with it. During his days at Council Rock High School, his tastes ran mostly to neatly pressed jeans and clean sneakers with a sweatshirt. But when he arrived at Bucknell in the fall of 1979, he was surrounded by preppy kids. “I called home and told my parents, ‘I don’t fit in here,’” he recalls.