Wright staying put at Villanova

PHILADELPHIA -- Villanova coach Jay Wright says he talked to the Philadelphia 76ers about the head coaching job but is staying with the Wildcats.

Wright said Friday that he met last week with Sixers president Ed Stefanski to discuss the NBA job. He says he called Stefanski after that and asked to be removed from consideration.

Wright says he's flattered that he was considered. But he says he loves Villanova and that's where he wants to coach.

"Last week, Ed reached out to me to see if I would be willing to speak to him about the Sixers' coaching position," Wright said in a prepared statement. "He is a longtime friend of mine whom I have great respect for and is someone I talk to often. We had a lively conversation about the vision Ed has for the Sixers organization. As a lifelong Sixers fan, I was honored to be part of the process.

"Following our meeting, I called Ed to thank him and requested that he remove me from consideration," Wright said. "I love Villanova and it is where I want to be. I am grateful to the Sixers for including me in the process. There is a lot to look forward to for Sixer fans like me with the young talent they have put together and the leadership of Ed Stefanski."

Villanova advanced to the Final Four this past season, losing to eventual national champion North Carolina in the semifinals.

The 76ers have said they have interviewed former Wizards coach Eddie Jordan, Celtics assistant Tom Thibodeau, Lakers assistant Kurt Rambis, and Mavericks assistant Dwane Casey.

Meanwhile, a person with knowledge of the interview told The Associated Press that Chris Ford, a pro scout with the 76ers who was interim coach five years ago, has interviewed for the job.

Stefanski said in a statement on Friday that he has no timetable set to make a hire. He said all of the candidates are "exceptionally qualified, have an impressive knowledge of the game and are very well-respected within the basketball community."

"Along with my staff, we will continue our due diligence -- including further interviews, extensive research and in-depth background checks -- before a final selection is made," Stefanski said.

Stefanski is getting his first real opportunity to hire a coach since he took over as president and general manager in December 2007.

He inherited Maurice Cheeks, then gave him an extension after Cheeks led the Sixers to the playoffs in 2008. Stefanski fired Cheeks in December 2008 and replaced him with front-office veteran Tony DiLeo.

The team finished 32-27 under DiLeo and 41-41 overall, but the Sixers were ousted in the first round of the playoffs in six games by the Orlando Magic.

When DiLeo announced after the season ended that he would return to the front office, Stefanski was faced with his biggest decision in Philly yet.

On Friday he reiterated the type of coach he is seeking.

"As I have said before, the qualities I am looking for in our next head coach include excellent communication and leadership skills, will stress the importance of accountability while also developing our players and will be a strong tactician," Stefanski said.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.