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Volume 25 No. 27
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Villanova's Jay Wright Notes One-And-Done System Is Not Working For College Hoops

Villanova men’s basketball coach Jay Wright delivered a sharp critique of the sport’s one-and-done system for NBA-bound players, calling for a model more closely resembling baseball, where players enter the pro ranks either right after high school, after three years of college or when they reach 21 years of age. “There have to be student-athletes who want to be in college and want to be educated,” Wright said during an interview at the ’17 Learfield Intercollegiate Athletics Forum. “The ones that don’t, don’t put them in our system and don’t force them into our system. There’s so much out there now about student-athlete rights, and they should have rights. The problem is that there are athletes who don’t want to be students. To get a guy to a professional sport in seven months, that’s not why we’re here.” Wright, who coached the '16 NCAA national champs, quickly acknowledged that making a fix to the one-and-done system is “easy to say, hard to do.” He referenced recent meetings between the NBA, NBPA and College Basketball Commission to address potential changes. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has previously said the league is “rethinking” its position on one-and-done. As a result, Wright particularly called on the union and major sneaker companies to be more proactive in solving the problem. “We need to work the union and the sneaker companies and get them to understand there are only a few guys who can truly make the jump (right away to the NBA), maybe 10% (of elite players), at most,” said Wright. “So let’s not ruin the lives of the other 90% and preclude them from getting an education.” For those players not wanting to play basketball in college, Wright advocated entering the NBA G League, similar how to high school baseball players drafted by MLB clubs enter the minor leagues. “We need to be honest about what college sports is,” he said. “It’s big, big business. But big business doesn’t have to be bad if it’s authentic. We have to be authentic about what we are.”

CREATING A CULTURE: Wright also spoke extensively about building a winning and communicative culture, and said that was more integral to the program than tournament success in any given year. “Our goal is not to win another national championship,” he said. “It’s to keep your culture strong. If our culture is strong, that’s our best chance to win another national championship.”

Quick Hits:
* On evolving from an up-and-coming coach when he shifted from Hofstra to Villanova in ’01 to his current status as a coaching veteran: “That just gets you on more committees.”

* On his reputation as a less emotional and often stoic coach: “I have a better reputation on that than I really am. I’m a lot more worked up than it appears. But one of the things we pride ourselves on is our attitude. It’s something we can teach our kids. How do we react to situations?”

* The hardest part of Wright’s job: “How do we say no to the great causes we’re asked to support. There are so many of them.” The best part? “The relationships with the players.”

* On the influence of the late Rollie Massimino, who Wright worked under during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s: “He would do anything for anyone. He had an incredible work ethic and commitment to the team and the university.”