The Ohio State coaching search was short and at times messy, but in the end the Buckeyes were able to poach a young rising star head coach from within it’s recruiting grounds. Butler head coach Chris Holtmann has accepted an 8-year deal to become the new Ohio State head coach, raising the 45-year old’s salary from around $1 million a year to a reported $3 million.
Holtmann’s name was mentioned with several big job openings this offseason, including another Big Ten school down the road in Bloomington. However, it is unclear how closely he was ever linked to any of those openings and in late April, Butler signed Holtmann to a contract extension meant to keep him in Indianapolis through at least 2025. According to the Columbus Dispatch, that extension carried a $2 million buyout.
This is the next step in an impressive rise through the coaching ranks for Holtmann, who just four years ago was coaching Gardner Webb in the CIT. He landed the Butler job in a similar fashion to his newest gig, hired even later in the offseason (October 2014) after Brandon Miller resigned for medical reasons. In three years, Holtmann led the Bulldogs to three NCAA Tournaments, two second place Big East finishes and a trip to the 2017 Sweet Sixteen.
Athletic director Gene Smith announced a surprise press conference on Tuesday, during which the shocking news that Thad Matta – the winningest coach in program history – would not be returning. What really sent shockwaves through the college basketball world was the timing, as a major (arguably top-15) job was opening up more than two months after the season had ended.
What followed was a somewhat chaotic scramble to find a new coach, leading several high-profile coaches (Fred Hoiberg, Chris Mack) to publicly deny any interest in the job. Outside of Holtmann, the only candidates confirmed to have actually interviewed for the position were OSU assistant Chris Jent and Creighton head coach Greg McDermott. The latter coach was reported to have received an offer before taking to Twitter to announce his commitment to Creighton.
Butler has been a launch pad for head coaches, as Holtmann joins the likes of Brad Stevens, Todd Lickliter, Barry Collier and his OSU predecessor Matta as Bulldogs’ coaches to leave for higher level positions. Normally looking to stay within the Butler family, Collier – who has been the school’s AD since 2006 – has a number of compelling options. South Alabama head coach Matthew Graves, Milwaukee head coach LaVall Jordan, Celtics assistant Micah Shrewsberry and Nebraska assistant Michael Lewis are among the names that will certainly be thrown around. Not to mention Matta, who stated in this week’s press conference that despite his nagging health issues he would like to continue coaching.