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Men’s Basketball: Thad Matta to be involved in vetting his successor

OSU coach Thad Matta speaks to the Buckeyes during a timeout in OSU’s exhibition match-up against Walsh on Nov. 6, 2016. The Buckeyes won 85-67. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Former Photo Editor

Thad Matta is no longer Ohio State’s men’s basketball coach after he and OSU Athletics Director Gene Smith announced his firing at a press conference Monday afternoon, but he will have a hand in helping to select his successor.

The three-time Big Ten Coach of the Year will speak with candidates for his replacement and deliver input to Smith.

“I might not necessarily know a particular thing about a particular candidate and he’ll help me try and vet that out,” Smith said.

Matta’s consultation will not end there, according to Smith.

“If we’re having a particular issue with one of our current athletes, I’ll call Thad, or someone will call Thad and say, ‘Hey, we need to help this young person as they go through this particular challenge,’” Smith said.

Smith specified this did not mean that Matta would remain a full-time employee.

When Matta and Smith convened for a meeting on Friday, neither anticipated only one would walk out as an OSU employee. But the duo exited the regularly-scheduled sit-down understanding that it would be the last such meeting between the two to simply touch base.

At Monday’s press conference, he proclaimed that as soon as the media availability ended, a national search for OSU’s next coach would begin. Smith stated that there will be no timetable for hiring Matta’s replacement. But because of the abnormal time for a coaching search, it may be lengthier than most.

“No time is optimal, but obviously this time is not the best,” Smith said. So I need to be sensitive to what I’m dealing with in this window of time. So, I do not have a timeline.”

In the interim, the coaching and support staff will remain in place.

“So right now, Dave Richardson will be running the strength and conditioning part, working with (athletic trainer) Vince (O’Brien). The assistant coaches are still on staff and they’re still employed. And so they’ll be doing their jobs unless they find another job,” Smith said.

During Friday’s meeting, neither Matta nor Smith talked about OSU’s all-time winningest coach leading the Buckeyes for one additional year, Smith said.

“It was never a part of our conversation,” Smith said. “I felt where he was and I also quantifiably looked at where we were from my responsibility point of view and just felt like it was time.

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