Jay Wright '83 — a CBS Sports college basketball analyst who retired in April as a highly successful men's basketball coach at Villanova University, where he guided the program to two NCAA championships and four Final Fours — will deliver the keynote address at Bucknell University's 173rd Commencement on Sunday, May 14, 2023.
Wright became head coach of the Villanova men's basketball program in 2001 and posted a record of 520-197 (.725) in 21 seasons, which included national championships in 2016 and 2018. In his final season, Villanova advanced to the fourth NCAA Final Four of Wright's tenure. He also coached Hofstra University from 1994 through 2001, winning 642 games during his coaching career.
Wright was a member of the Bucknell men's basketball team before graduating in 1983 with degrees in economics and sociology. He was featured in the Winter 2017 edition of Bucknell Magazine.
"Jay Wright is a proud Bucknell alumnus, and we are proud to have him address the Class of 2023 as this year's Commencement speaker," says Bucknell President John Bravman. "He has motivated and guided his players to success both on the basketball court and in the classroom, and we look forward to his words of inspiration to this year's graduating seniors."
A Hall of Fame Coaching Career
In January 2020, Wright was named the Associated Press Men's Basketball Coach of the Decade. He is a two-time winner of the Naismith National Coach of the Year award and a six-time Big East Coach of the Year recipient. He received the John R. Wooden Legends of Coaching Award in 2018 and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2021.
Under Wright's leadership, the Villanova men’s basketball program was also successful in the classroom. Every Villanova player who spent four years in the program under Wright earned his degree. Since 2012, Villanova men's basketball student-athletes have received Academic All-Big East recognition on 69 occasions.
Wright announced his retirement as Villanova William B. Finneran Endowed Head Men's Basketball Coach in April and now serves as special assistant to the president of the university, where he is involved in fundraising, advising, education and more.
He has coached basketball teams representing the United States three times in international competitions. He led Team USA to a gold medal at the 2005 World University Games as head coach, and was an assistant coach in the 2000 World Championship for Young Men Qualifying Tournament. He coached the American team in the 2007 Pan American Games to a fifth-place finish.
In October, CBS Sports announced that Wright had joined the network as a college basketball analyst.
"I am humbled and honored to return to my alma mater, Bucknell University — a place I love — to deliver the commencement speech to the Class of 2023," says Wright. "Bucknell prepared me for my professional life, opened my eyes to the world and provided me with the most valued lifelong friendships. I hope I can impart some value and wisdom to the Class of 2023 that can compare in a small way to the education and life lessons I learned in my four years on the beautiful Bucknell campus."
Bucknell's 173rd Commencement, celebrating the Class of 2023, is scheduled for Sunday, May 14, at 10 a.m. on Malesardi Quadrangle.
Wright is the latest accomplished Bucknell alumnus to address University graduates. He follows Class of 2022 speaker Daisy Auger-Domínguez '95, the chief people officer at Vice Media Group; and Class of 2021 speaker Audra Wilson '94, president and CEO of the Shriver Center on Poverty Law. Carolyn Speer Miles '83, P'14, former president and chief executive officer of Save the Children, was the Class of 2020 speaker, delivering the address for Bucknell's only virtual Commencement.