Thad Matta Out As Ohio State Men’s Basketball Coach After 13 Seasons
After 13 seasons, the Thad Matta era is over in Columbus, Ohio, as the Ohio State Men’s Basketball Head Coach was let go by the school’s athletic director Gene Smith during a press conference on Monday.
The announcement came nearly two months into college basketball’s offseason, and Smith opted to make the decision now, rather than at the end of the season or after next season. Matta still had three years left on a contract extension he had signed back in 2012.
He leaves the Buckeyes as the school’s all-time winningest coach, logging 337 of them. He also led the team to nine NCAA tournament appearances and two Final Four appearances, as well as five Big Ten regular-season championships and four conference tournament titles. He was the school’s most tenured coach of all-time, coaching for 460 of the school’s game.
However, the past few years had been rocky for Matta and the Buckeyes. Not only has the 49-year-old been dealing with back pains for the past several years stemming from back surgery in 2007, as well as debilitating foot pain, but he also has seen the Buckeye program decline the past few seasons. The Buckeyes failed to record 20 wins for the first time with Matta at the helm, and missed out on the Big Dance for the second straight season after a 17-15 finish and a lackluster loss to Rutgers in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
Since 2013, the Buckeyes have won just one NCAA tournament game after appearing in four consecutive Sweet 16’s.
Another part of the decision was based on recruiting. Ohio State pulled in top recruiting classes during its impressive 2010-2013 stretch, but now have fallen out of the top-50 after a string of de-commitments and landing just one top-75 player over the past two seasons. That’s not what a once high caliber program is looking for, who were home for players including DeAngelo Russell and Mike Conley, Jr., as well as former No. 1 pick Greg Oden.
That all in consideration, Matta did strike gold for a long time in Columbus, but wants to be remembered by someone who coached his program “the right way.”
In a statement after the decision, Matta said, “I hope, No. 1, that I’m remembered as a really good person. And a guy who cared about the university, a guy that cared about his players.”
Matta was an assistant turned Head Coach at Butler University from 1998-2002, and then was the Head Coach at Xavier from 2002-2004 before his tenure at Ohio State.