Ohio St. fires head basketball coach Chris Holtmann

Ohio St. fires head basketball coach Chris Holtmann

Ohio St. (14-11 straight up, 11-14 against the spread) fired men’s head basketball coach Chris Holtmann earlier today, ending his seven-year tenure in Columbus.

Barring a surprising run to win the Big Ten Tournament, Ohio St. is almost certainly on its way to missing the NCAA Tournament for a second straight season. The Buckeyes have lost nine of their last 11 games, including last night’s 62-54 setback at Wisconsin.

They’re now 4-10 in league play and only one game out of the cellar in the Big Ten standings.

The 52-year-old Holtmann led Ohio St. to the NCAA Tournament four times and was probably going to get a bid in 2019-20 before the pandemic caused a premature end to the season. However, his teams never advanced past the first weekend, going 3-4 in seven NCAA Tournament games.

Holtmann had his best year in his first season when Ohio St. tied for second place in the Big Ten and finished 25-9. The Buckeyes beat South Dakota St. 81-73 in the opening round of the Tournament before getting eliminated in a 90-84 loss to Gonzaga in the Round of 32.

Although Holtmann won at least 20 games in each of his first five seasons, he never surpassed the 21-win plateau after Year 1 at the helm. The Buckeyes went 16-19 overall last year and 5-15 in conference action.

Holtmann’s tenure ends with a 137-85 overall record (61.7%) and a 67-64 mark (51.1%) in Big Ten games. He was hired at Ohio St. after leading Butler to NCAA Tournament wins in his first two seasons and a Sweet 16 appearance in his third year on the job.

Holtmann owns a 251-170 career record (59.6%) in 13 seasons as a HC.

Jake Diebler will serve as Ohio St.’s interim head coach for the rest of the year.

“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 AD 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.”

According to ESPN’s Jeff Borzello, Holtmann is still owed more than $14 million in guaranteed salary on his contract that had four years left on it.

New AD Ross Bjork will conduct the search for a new head coach, although his official tenure as AD doesn’t start until July.

Potential candidates to replace Holtmann could include names like South Carolina’s Lamont Paris, UCLA’s Mick Cronin, Xavier’s Sean Miller, Cincinnati’s Wes Miller, FAU’s Dusty May and Kansas St.’s Jerome Tang.