Friday, June 9, 2017, marks the day that Chris Holtmann was hired by Ohio State to become its next men’s basketball coach after the university fired long time coach Thad Matta earlier this week. Holtmann was given an eight year deal that will pay him around $3 million annually. Holtmann, though, is a relative unknown to people who do not actively follow college basketball and are not familiar with his accomplishments at Butler University.
Let’s take a look at Holtmann’s resume and why he is more than qualified to be Matta’s replacement.
1998-1999: Assistant Coach at Geneva College
1999-2003: Assistant Coach at Taylor University
2003-2008: Assistant Coach at Gardner-Webb University
2008-2010: Assistant Coach at Ohio University
2010-2013: Head Coach at Gardner-Webb University
2013-2014: Assistant Coach at Butler University
2014-2017: Head Coach at Butler University
Early Years as an Assistant Coach
In 1998, Holtmann became at assistant coach at Geneva College, a small private school in Pennsylvania. After that, Holtmann returned to his alma mater and became the assistant coach at Taylor University until 2003. Holtmann then left to join Division I college basketball and became an assistant coach at Gardner-Webb. After leaving Gardner-Webb to become an assistant coach at Ohio University, he decided to return to Gardner-Webb as the head coach of the men’s basketball team.
Life as Gardner-Webb’s Head Coach
In 2010, Holtmann inherited an 8-21 Gardner-Webb team that finished in the bottom half of the Big South conference. Still, he managed to turn around the basketball program in only three seasons. After going a combined 33-41 in his first two seasons as head coach, Gardner-Webb finished the 2012-2013 season with 21 wins and 13 losses as the team made its first Division I postseason appearance in school history. Following that season, Holtmann left and became an assistant coach at Butler University. Since his departure from Gardner-Webb University, the school has not finished a season with a losing record as Holtmann successfully establish a stronger basketball culture at Gardner-Webb University.
Life as an Assistant Coach at Butler University
In 2013, Holtmann decided to become an assistant coach again and joined Butler head coach Brandon Miller’s staff. In Miller’s first season as coach, Butler went 14-17. A month before the 2014-2015 season started, Miller asked to be put on a medical leave of absence due to an undisclosed medical issue. As a result, Holtmann became the interim head coach.
Life as Head Coach at Butler University
Holtmann started his Butler coaching career with a 10-4 record when he was named the permanent head coach. the Butler Bulldogs finished the season going 23-11 and made it to the NCAA tournament where they suffered an overtime loss to Notre Dame in the third round. The following year, Holtmann was named Big East Coach of the Year as Butler went 24-9 and lost to Virginia in the second round. This past season, Butler went 25-9 and lost to the eventual champion North Carolina Tar Heels in the Sweet 16.
Throughout the course of his career, Holtmann has excelled in player development and recruiting. He has recruited seven all-conference players in his career and 13 players of his have become professional basketball players after college. Holtmann is a perfect fit for the Ohio State job because of his work ethic and recruiting expertise. Ohio Stare Athletic Director Gene Smith has stressed the importance of recruiting in various interviews, which helps to explain what he saw in Holtmann.
“We weren’t winning the battles in recruiting that I thought we had a chance to win,” Smith said in an interview regarding Matta’s firing.
Holtmann inherits a Buckeyes team that went just 17-15 last season and finished tenth in the Big Ten conference standings. Lead by Jae’Sean Tate who averaged 14.3 points per game last season along with 6.4 rebounds, this team has the potential to be competitive in Big East play. However, the Buckeyes will need to step up their recruiting if the team plans on reaching its first Final Four since the 2011-2012 season.