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Men’s basketball: Ohio State hires Chris Holtmann as head coach

Butler head coach Chris Holtmann directs his team during the first half against Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday, March 19, 2016. Virginia advanced, 77-69. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Ohio State announced it has hired Butler head coach Chris Holtmann to replace Thad Matta, who was fired Monday. Holtmann, the 14th head coach in OSU history, has agreed to an eight-year contract worth about $3 million annually, according to the press release.

The initial report of Holtmann’s hire was first reported by Adam Jardy of the Columbus Dispatch.

“Chris is focused on academics, is a high-integrity person, a relentless recruiter with Midwestern ties and a proven winner,” said Athletics Director Gene Smith in the press release. Smith spoke about the importance of recruiting the Midwest at Monday’s press conference announcing Matta’s firing.

Holtmann, who agreed to an extension with Butler through the 2024-25 season, spent the past three seasons at the helm of Butler. Last season, the Bulldogs finished 25-9 – Butler’s best record since 2012-13 – and reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2010-11 season, losing to eventual-national champion North Carolina.

Butler finished with over 20 wins and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament in Holtmann’s first and second years as head coach.

He was originally hired by the Bulldogs as an assistant coach in 2013, and spent a season in the position. In October 2014, he was named interim head coach when Brandon Miller took a medical leave of absence. Butler went 10-4 before the interim tag was removed on Jan. 2, 2015.

The 45-year-old began his head coaching career at Gardner-Webb in 2010. His first two years in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, his team finished 11-21 and 12-20. But in his third and final year, the Runnin’ Bulldogs improved, achieving a 21-13 record and earning Holtmann a job offer as an assistant coach from Butler.

Prior to being a head coach at Gardner-Webb, Holtmann spent 12 years as an assistant coach at Geneva (1998-1999), Taylor (1999-2003), Gardner-Webb (2003-2008) and Ohio (2008-2010). He was an assistant under former OSU assistant John Groce at Ohio.

He has experience recruiting in the Buckeye State, as Butler reeled in commitments from Ohioans in each of its past three recruiting classes. His 2017 recruiting class is the No. 34 ranked class in the nation, according to 247Sports, and features 6-foot-6 small forward Kyle Young, a four-star prospect from Massillon, Ohio.

In six years as a head coach, Holtmann owns an overall record of 114-85 and has reached the NCAA Tournament appearances on three occasions.

Matta, who also coached at Butler, won 337 games at OSU, the most in program history. He presided over a program that reached the Final Four twice and reached the NCAA Tournament on nine occasions. Matta’s OSU teams won five Big Ten championships and won the conference tournament four times in his 13 seasons.

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