Thad Matta was one of college basketball’s top head coaches when he stepped down at Ohio State after the 2016-17 season. His health had been declining and he needed a break.
Since then, he’s been courted by other schools, ultimately declining to return to the sidelines — until this past Sunday, that is.
That’s when Butler, his alma mater, announced that Matta was replacing LaVall Jordan as the school’s new head coach. This will be Matta’s second tour of duty at Butler, where he led the Bulldogs to a 24-8 record and an NCAA Tournament win in 2000-2001.
After one season at Butler, Matta took the Xavier job and led the Musketeers to three consecutive 26-win seasons, a 5-3 NCAA Tournament record and a trip to the Elite Eight in 2003-04. After going 78-23 overall at Xavier, Ohio St. hired Matta to replace Jim O’Brien.
Matta won at least 20 games in his first 12 seasons at Ohio St., going to nine NCAA Tournaments and making two NIT appearances. In his third season with the Buckeyes, they won 35 games and lost to Florida in the finals at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
After losing Mike Conley and Greg Oden from that team, Ohio St. won the NIT in 2008. Matta began a run of seven straight NCAA Tournament trips the following year. He had the Buckeyes in the Sweet 16 four seasons in a row from 2009-13, including another trip to the Final Four in 2012.
Matta went 337-123 (73.3%) at Ohio St. to improve his overall career record to 439-154 (74.0%).
Jordan spent five seasons at Butler, where he played for Matta during his senior year. Jordan took over the Bulldogs in 2017-18, leading them to a 21-14 record and a win over Arkansas in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
Butler lost in the first round of the NIT in Jordan’s second season as HC. The Bulldogs were poised for an NCAA Tournament return in 2020, but their season ended with a 22-9 record after the coronavirus nixed the Tournament altogether.
Jordan’s tenure at Butler unraveled in his final two seasons with 10-15 and 14-19 records. The school announced Jordan’s departure on April 1.
In a release from the school on April 3, Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier said, “The success that Thad has achieved at every one of his programs speaks for itself. He is a championship-caliber coach and recruiter who brings valuable experience and contagious energy to Butler. I have seen that personally in Thad as a player, assistant coach and head coach. The Matta Family – Thad, Barb, Ali and Emily – has a deep appreciation for Butler and I know they join all of the Butler community in how excited we are for what’s to come.”
“Butler is a special place, one that Barb, Ali, Emily and I each chose as our school,” said Matta. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to return to Butler and lead our men’s basketball program. There is a solid foundation in place and I’m confident that Butler will consistently be among the top programs in the BIG EAST. I can’t wait to attack the work we have in front of us and to be back on the sidelines at Hinkle Fieldhouse.”
Matta will be re-introduced to the Butler community at a press conference tomorrow (Wednesday, April 6).