His retirement came as a shock to Villanova students, the community and basketball coaches from near and far.
Two people who know him well are Phil Martelli, the former Saint Joe's men's basketball team coach, and Fran Dunphy, the former Temple coach who now leads the program at La Salle University.
"He's a Hall of Fame guy. He cares what you think. He cares what you say. He found the perfect marriage. Jay Wright, Villanova, Father Peter, Mark Jackson -- they were one entity, and they were Villanova basketball. He never lost his values," said Martelli.
SEE ALSO: Villanova's Jay Wright retiring as head coach; Kyle Neptune to take over
The 60-year-old Wright guided Villanova to titles in 2016 and 2018 and just led the Wildcats to the Final Four, where they lost to national champion Kansas. He went 520-197 in 21 seasons at the school and 642-282 overall, also coaching Hofstra from 1994-2001.
"How he treats people -- he does a really good job of that. He has the perfect blend of being demanding and loving you at the same time. I think he's done it the right way in every way. I'm terribly impressed by Jay Wright 'the man,' and Jay Wright 'the coach' has been awesome," said Dunphy.
Kyle Neptune, who served on the Villanova coaching staff before accepting the head coaching position at Fordham in 2021, has returned to replace Wright.
Wright's decision was unexpected and there was no immediate word the move was health-related or that he was leaving for the NBA. He was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.
Wright will remain at Villanova and stay involved in fundraising, advising, education and more.
SEE ALSO: Villanova students stunned by Jay Wright's retirement, welcoming Neptune back
He joined North Carolina's Roy Williams and Duke's Mike Krzyzewski as the third coach with multiple championships to step down over the last two years.
Before he arrived, Villanova was known for upsetting Georgetown in the 1985 national championship game and the occasional trip to the NCAA Tournament.
Wright needed three years to build a foundation before Villanova broke through with a trip to the 2005 Sweet 16. An Elite Eight appearance followed the next year and the Wildcats reached the Final Four in 2009.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.