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Ohio St. fires men’s basketball coach Holtmann

ohio-st.-fires-men’s-basketball-coach-holtmann
Ohio St. fires men’s basketball coach Holtmann

Chris Holtmann fired as Ohio State men’s basketball coach

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  • Jeff Borzello, ESPN Staff WriterFeb 14, 2024, 12:53 PM ET

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    • Basketball recruiting insider.
    • Joined ESPN in 2014.
    • Graduate of University of Delaware.

Ohio State has fired Chris Holtmann, ending his tenure as the Buckeyes’ men’s basketball coach just shy of his seventh season in Columbus.

The school announced the firing Wednesday and said associate head coach Jake Diebler will serve as the Buckeyes’ interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“I want to express my appreciation toward Chris for the first-class program, and the well-respected program, he has run here at Ohio State,” outgoing Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith said in a statement. “He and his wife, Lori, are wonderful people. I thank each of them for their seven years here in Columbus and I wish them well.”

Holtmann had four years remaining on his contract, which ran through the 2027-28 season. Ohio State still owes Holtmann more than $14 million in guaranteed salary, sources told ESPN.

New athletic director Ross Bjork will lead the search for Holtmann’s replacement. Bjork will not officially start as Ohio State’s AD until July, but the school announced Wednesday that he will begin an interim role in the athletic department on March 1 as a senior adviser to Smith.

The Buckeyes lost for the ninth time in 11 games Tuesday with their 62-54 loss at Wisconsin — a defeat that dropped the Buckeyes to 4-10 in the Big Ten and 14-11 overall.

Holtmann led Butler to three straight NCAA tournaments before Ohio State hired him to replace Thad Matta in 2017. He started off his tenure at Ohio State with a 25-9 (15-3 in the Big Ten) record in Year 1 and went to back-to-back NCAA tournaments — and won a tournament game each year. The Buckeyes earned a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament in 2021 but suffered a first-round upset to 15-seed Oral Roberts, then advanced to the second round in 2022.

Ohio State took a big step back last season, however, finishing 16-19 overall and 5-15 in the Big Ten. And despite starting 12-2 this season, the Buckeyes have dropped to next-to-last in the Big Ten standings.

Ohio State’s struggles on the road and in the month of January have been well documented. The Buckeyes haven’t won a road game since Jan. 1, 2023, and they’re 18-29 over the past six seasons in the month of January.

Holtmann started his coaching career as an assistant at Division III Geneva College and moved up the ladder before taking over as the head coach at Gardner-Webb. He took the Runnin’ Bulldogs from 11 wins in Year 1 to a second-place Big South finish in his third season, then left to join Butler’s staff as an assistant under Brandon Miller. When Miller took a leave of absence, Holtmann was promoted to interim head coach and was given the permanent job after just three months.

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