Holtmann fired by Ohio State


Chris Holtmann’s time at Ohio State is officially over.

A day after the Buckeyes tied the school record with their 16th consecutive road loss dating back to last season in a 62-54 defeat at Wisconsin, Ohio State has announced the termination of Holtmann’s contract. The loss also marked the ninth in the last 11 games for a team that has freefallen out of NCAA Tournament considerations for the second consecutive year.

In a release announcing Holtmann’s termination, outgoing Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith stated, “I want to express my appreciation toward Chris for the first-class and well-respected program he has run here at Ohio State. 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 will still be owed the $12.8 million remaining on his contract, which was extended through the 2027-28 season in 2022.

After being hired to replace Thad Matta in 2017, Holtmann’s tenure in Columbus got off to an encouraging start as Ohio State went 24-8 overall and 15-3 in Big Ten play en route to earning a fifth seed in the NCAA Tournament. Holtmann was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year following the regular season, but the Buckeyes were bounced in the tournament’s second round.

Ohio State made the tournament in each of the next three seasons — not including the cancellation of the 2019-20 postseason due to COVID-19 — but failed in each season to advance past the first weekend. In the 2021 NCAA Tournament, the second-seeded Buckeyes were stunned by 15th-seeded Oral Roberts in the first round.

While Ohio State earned an at-large bid in the 2022 tournament, it was another shortlived postseason as the Buckeyes lost in the second round.

As Holtmann’s postseason shortcomings began to draw the ire of an increasingly frustrated fanbase, worse times were ahead as Ohio State compiled one of the program’s worst stretches in recent memory beginning with a 16-19 record and missed postseason last year. The season featured separate losing streaks of five and nine games.

Holtmann’s team got off to a promising start this season, improving to 12-2 with a Jan. 3 home win over Rutgers. But for the second consecutive season, January proved treacherous for the Buckeyes as they hit a three-game skid capped by a road loss to a Michigan team that entered the game with a 6-9 record.

A Jan. 20 win over Penn State temporarily stopped the bleeding, but Ohio State then proceeded to lose its next five games, including a blown 18-point lead in the second half in a home loss to Indiana last week. The loss was the second time this season Ohio State had blown an 18-point second-half lead and likely marked the final nail in the coffin for Holtmann’s time in Columbus.

With six games remaining on the regular season schedule, associate head coach Jake Diebler will take over as the interim head coach.

In the release, Ohio State said the search for the program’s new head coach will begin following the end of the season and will be led by incoming Athletic Director Ross Bjork. While Bjork’s tenure doesn’t officially start until July 1, he will begin working at Ohio State on March 1 in an interim role as a senior advisor to Smith.

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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