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‘One of the most difficult decisions of my life’: Butler’s Chris Holtmann leaves for Ohio State

MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 18: Heah coach Chris Holtmann of the Butler Bulldogs reacts in the first half against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders during the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament at BMO Harris Bradley Center on March 18, 2017 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Butler’s Chris Holtmann has decided to leave Indy to take a job with Ohio State University, FOX59 has confirmed.

A source told FOX59 that Holtmann’s departure was a “done deal.”

ESPN’s Jeff Goodman, citing sources, said Holtmann agreed to an eight-year deal. David Woods from our media partners at the IndyStar also reported that Holtmann accepted the job. The Columbus Dispatch was the first to report that Holtmann would be the new basketball coach at Ohio State.

Ohio State confirmed the news Friday morning.

Holtmann had reportedly emerged as the front-runner for the job after Thad Matta was fired this week, creating a vacancy for the Buckeyes. Matta, who played college basketball and coached at Butler, spent 13 seasons in Columbus.

Butler Vice President/Director of Athletics Barry Collier released a statement thanking Holtmann for helping continue “The Butler Way”:

“Chris is a tremendous basketball coach, but more importantly, he is a great man who has led our program well and embodied The Butler Way during his time with us. On behalf of everyone at Butler, we wish him, Lori, and Nora continued success as they make this transition. Our basketball program is among the nation’s best and Butler University is committed to maintaining our competitive success on a national level, while also recruiting young men who will represent our institution well in the classroom and in the community. We will work efficiently to identify our next head coach.”

Holtman released a lengthy statement via his Twitter account:

“As a family we would like to thank President Danko, Barry Collier and the Board of Trustees for their believe in me over 3 years ago. I am indebted to them for their belief and leadership. These have been the best and most rewarding years of my professional life, President Danko and Barry Collier are big reasons why. Our players have been amazing these last 3 years and I am so grateful for them allowing me to coach them. Talented, tough and unselfish–they have been so fun to coach.

“Our staff, current and former, have played such an important role in the great health of where the program stands today. Our fans here at Butler are incredible–smart, savvy, supportive and passionate! Walking out to coach a game at Hinkle Fieldhouse will always be one of the great thrills of my life. Hinkle is the best, so unique–the Butler faithful make it uniquely special.

“Leaving Butler has been one of the most difficult decisions of my life. Lori, Nora and I leave with amazing memories that we were honored to be a part of. We all know that at Butler, despite change, those special and amazing moments will only continue. I’m certain of that. It’s Butler.

“Thank you so much for allowing me to be your Head Coach for these past 3 seasons. I am sincerely grateful.”

Holtmann has been a hot coaching prospect, having been previously linked to openings at North Carolina State, Missouri, Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech. In each of those cases, he decided to stay at Butler.

Holtmann had a 70-31 record in three seasons with the Bulldogs and was named coach of the year in the Big East after last season, when he steered Butler to a 25-9 record and the school’s first Sweet 16 appearance since 2011.

He signed an extension in April that was meant to keep him at Butler through 2024-2025.

Other rumored candidates for the Ohio State job included Creighton’s Greg McDermott and Xavier’s Chris Mack.