Ohio State names Butler’s Chris Holtmann head coach

Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gene Smith, Ohio State senior vice president and Wolfe Foundation endowed athletics director, announced the hiring of Butler’s Chris Holtmann as the next head men’s basketball coach of the Buckeyes.

Holtmann, who completed his third year with the Bulldogs in 2016-17, has agreed to an eight-year contract with Ohio State worth about $3 million annually, Smith said. Final details of the deal are being finalized and will be released at a later date.

Smith said Holtmann fit the criteria he sought for the 14th head coach in Ohio State history.

“Chris is focused on academics, is a high-integrity person, a relentless recruiter with Midwestern ties and a proven winner,” Smith said.

In three seasons at Butler, Holtmann compiled a record of 70-31 as a member of the BIG EAST conference. In six years as a head coach, which includes three years at Gardner-Webb (44-54), his career record is 114-85. His teams have won at least 20 games in each of the last four seasons, including a 25-9 record a year ago.

Butler advanced to the NCAA Tournament in all three seasons with Holtmann as the head coach. He was the 2016-17 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, the 2013 Big South Conference Coach of the Year and a Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist in 2014-15.

Holtmann left a position as head coach at Gardner-Webb to become an assistant coach at Butler prior to the 2013-14 season. After one year as an assistant, Holtmann found himself back in the lead chair. He was appointed interim head coach and given the task of leading the Bulldogs through the start of the 2014-15 season. Three months later, on Jan. 2, 2015, Butler Vice President and Director of Athletics Barry Collier removed the “interim” tag and named Holtmann head coach of the Bulldogs.

Holtmann served as head coach at Gardner-Webb for three seasons (2010-13), leading the North Carolina school through a successful rebuilding effort. He took the Runnin’ Bulldogs from eight wins in 2009-10 to a school Division I record 21 victories and a berth in the CollegeInsider.com postseason tournament in his last year. Gardner-Webb won 10 of its final 11 games in 2012-13 and finished a game out of first place in the Big South Conference. For his efforts, Holtmann was named Big South Conference Coach of the Year and NABC District 3 Coach of the Year.

Prior to taking the head coaching position at Gardner-Webb, Holtmann spent two seasons as an assistant coach at Ohio University under former Butler and Ohio State assistant John Groce. He helped build back-to-back top classes as recruiting coordinator for the Bobcats, and he was part of the staff that led Ohio to the 2010 Mid-American Conference Tournament title and an upset of No. 3 seed Georgetown in the opening round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Before his stint at Ohio, he served for five seasons as an assistant coach at Gardner-Webb, including four seasons as associate head coach.

A native of Nicholasville, Ky., Holtmann was an NAIA All-American guard at Taylor University. He helped lead Taylor to a 25-9 record, a No. 1 national ranking and a berth in the NAIA National Tournament in 1993-94. He served as a graduate assistant coach at Taylor in 1997-98, spent one season as an assistant coach at Geneva College and then returned to Taylor as an assistant coach under head coach Paul Patterson. In his final two seasons at Taylor, the Trojans posted a 50-16 record, won back-to-back conference titles and ranked in the “Top 15” of the NAIA national poll.

Holtmann earned a degree in psychology from Taylor in 1994 and a Master’s Degree in athletic administration from Ball State in 2000. He and his wife, Lori, have one daughter, Nora Jane.

(Ohio State athletics press release)