Ohio State fires basketball coach Chris Holtmann after several disappointing seasons

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State fired seventh-year basketball coach Chris Holtmann on Wednesday with the Buckeyes mired in yet another subpar season.

Associate head coach Jake Diebler will run the program for the rest of the season and a search for a new head coach will commence then, said Ohio State athletics director Gene Smith, who said a coaching change is “obviously something I’ve been thinking about for a little bit.”

“Our responsibility is to the program, so I just felt at this particular time, with six regular season games left and the Big Ten tournament and whatever the post season brings, a spark was needed,” said Smith, who was nearly overcome with emotion while answering questions during a press conference. “So yeah, it’s about the program in the end, and I have to set aside my personal feelings and just go with what’s best.”

Ohio State is 14-11, 4-10 in the Big Ten, and has lost nine of the last 11. In 2022-23, the Buckeyes suffered their first losing season in nearly two decades, finishing 16-19 and 5-15 in the Big Ten.

Ohio State’s 62-54 setback at Wisconsin on Tuesday marked its 16th straight road loss, tying a school record. The last road win for the Buckeyes came on Jan. 1, 2023.

The 52-year-old Holtmann was seen as a coach on the rise when Ohio State hired him away from Butler in 2017 to replace Thad Matta, who had brought success to Columbus but agreed to step down, partly due to health problems.

Holtmann compiled a 137-86 record in seven years at Ohio State but the last few seasons have been disappointing as he tried to negotiate a new college basketball culture heavy on transfer portal and NIL issues.

The Buckeyes went to the NCAA Tournament in 2021 and 2022 but couldn’t make it out of the first weekend either time.

None of Holtmann’s Ohio State teams won a regular season title or conference tournament.

Smith is set to retire in July, and he said new athletics director Ross Bjork would direct the search for a new basketball coach.

In 2022, Ohio State gave Holtmann a three-year contract extension that pushed his salary to about $3.5 million per season. He will be owed the $12.8 million remaining on his contract.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball

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