After what may have been the most epic ending in NCAA basketball tournament history, the 2015-16 Villanova Wildcats have become nothing short of celebrities, and their tour of superstardom continued with a team visit to the White House.
But while players, coaches and media at the event certainly enjoyed themselves – hearing Obama himself refer to the 77-74 win over North Carolina as "maybe the best title game of all-time" – one legendary Villanova figure wasn't in attendance. Eighty-one-year-old Rollie Massimino, head coach of Villanova's only other national championship team in 1985, was unable to make the trip to Washington due to recurring health issues.
Needless to say, Massimino – whose 1985 Wildcats topped a Patrick Ewing-led and No. 1 national seed Georgetown squad in that year's title game, still representing the only team seeded eighth or lower in its region to win the NCAA Championship – is still a massive part of the Villanova family. And as current Wildcats' head coach Jay Wright shared on his Twitter page on Monday, Obama personally took on the task of honoring the school's legend:
President Obama's letter to Coach Mass ! Great respect for POTUS and RVM pic.twitter.com/IugcOlxEw7
— Jay Wright (@VUCoachJWright) June 6, 2016
Although Massimino resigned from Villanova at the end of the 1991-92 season to take the job at UNLV, his connections to the school have remained strong, and he was able to muster the energy to attend the epic 2016 title game in Houston. His bond with Wright is especially notable. Wright was an assistant under him from 1987-94 at both Villanova and UNLV before eventually taking the head coaching position at the former in 2001.
As a result, it's easy to see why Wright has so much respect for his predecessor, and Obama's gesture to honor him was clearly appreciated.
Despite his status as a legend, Massimino isn't done with the basketball world quite yet – he just finished his 10th season as the head coach of NAIA Division II school Keiser (Florida), which just completed a 30-5 season culminating in an NAIA D-II Elite Eight appearance.
Meanwhile, like his mentor, Wright will also be getting back to the drawing board soon. Losing stars Ryan Arcidiacono and Daniel Ochefu to graduation, the Wildcats will attempt to quickly reload and become the country's first repeat champions since the 2006-07 Florida Gators.
More on Villanova:
-- How Three Players From '85 NCAA Title Team Decided To Attend Villanova
-- Villanova's Ryan Arcidiacono, Daniel Ochefu Surprise 4-Year-Old With Cancer
-- Jim Nantz Carries On Final Four's Weirdest Tradition