Chris Holtmann

Chris Holtmann - Men's Basketball - Ohio State Buckeyes
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position Head Coach

Alma Mater Taylor, 1994

Chris Holtmann begins his fifth season at the helm of the Buckeyes in 2021-22. His four seasons at Ohio State have followed the blueprint established during his tenures at both Gardner-Webb and Butler — Success.

He was named the 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year after leading the Buckeyes to a 25-9 overall record, a No. 2 finish in the Big Ten regular-season standings (15-3) and a Second Round appearance in the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

In Year Two with Ohio State, Holtmann took a depleted roster, which was without the 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year (Keita Bates-Diop), a four-year starter (Jae’Sean Tate), a fifth-year senior contributor (Kam Williams) and a graduate transfer (Andrew Dakich) and led a youthful squad to another Second Round appearance in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The Buckeyes won 20 games in 2018-19 (20-15), marking the sixth-consecutive season Holtmann teams have won 20 or more games.

Year Three was cut short with the cancellation of the 2020 Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. The Buckeyes had built an impressive resume and was positioned for another NCAA Tournament appearance with an overall record of 21-10, which included wins over four conference champions (Cincinnati, Villanova, Kentucky and Maryland), four wins vs. Top 10 opponents (Villanova, at North Carolina, Kentucky and Maryland). Despite no postseason tournaments, the Buckeyes still managed 20 wins, marking the seventh-consecutive season Holtmann teams reached to the 20-win plateau.

In another season shortened by COVID-19 implications, the 2020-21 Buckeyes still managed to finish above the 20-win mark and Holtmann was named a Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist. Despite playing in empty arenas, undergoing daily COVID-19 testing and essentially living in isolation from family and friend, Ohio State student athletes played all 20 of its schedule Big Ten Conference regular-season games and then advanced to the championship game of the 2021 Big Ten Tournament. Ohio State ended the season with a 21-10 record following tough loss to Oral Roberts in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament. Holtmann teams again won 20+ games, for the eighth-consecutive year, and earned an NCAA Tournament berth for the sixth-consecutive year in which the NCAA Tournament was held (canceled in 2020).

The 2019-20 Buckeyes finished tied for fifth in the Big Ten at 11-9, winning nine of the final 12 league games, tied for the top finish in conference regular-season play.  Ohio State climbed to as high as No. 2 in the polls after an 11-1 start that included wins over No. 10 Villanova, No. 6 North Carolina in Chapel Hill and No. 6 Kentucky in Las Vegas.

Holtmann is just the second Ohio State coach to win 20 or more games in each of his first four seasons in Columbus joining Thad Matta (12 from 2005-2016). Holtmann is the second Ohio State coach to take teams to the NCAA Tournament in his first two years: Randy Ayers (3, 1990-92). Matta’s 2005 team, his first in Columbus, was not eligible for postseason competition. The next two played in the NCAA (2006, 2007) before an NIT appearance in 2008.

In the first four years as an Ohio State coach, Holtmann’s 87 combined wins (2018/25, 2019/20, 2020/21, 2021/21) are the third most behind Matta’s 105 victories (in 2005/20, 2006/26, 2007/35, 2008/24) and Fred Taylor’s 89 (1959/11, 1960/25, 1961, 27, 1962/26) in Ohio State history.

Holtmann teams have won an opening-round game in the NCAA Tournament in five of the last six years in which the NCAA Tournament was contested.

The 2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year award was the second COY honor in as many seasons, and third overall for Holtmann, who earned Big East COY in 2017. The Big East award culminated three seasons as head coach at Butler University.

Holtmann became the 14th head coach in Ohio State history when he was named to the position June 9, 2017.

The Buckeyes exceeded any and all expectations in Holtmann’s first season in Columbus. Picked to finish no better than 11th in preseason media polls, the Buckeyes stormed out to a 9-0 record in Big Ten Conference play, the best start to a league season by a first-year Big Ten coach in 95 years.

Highlighting the 2018-19 season were home wins over Michigan, overcoming a first-half 20-point deficit, and No. 1 Michigan State along with a road victory at No. 3 Purdue, the Boilermakers’ only home loss of the season.

Holtmann, the USBWA District V Coach of the Year and a finalist for the 2018 Naismith COY Award, not only earned awards in 2017-18, he coached award winners as well.

Bates-Diop, who suffered a season-ending leg injury early in the 2016-17 season, returned to the Ohio State roster as a redshirt junior in 2017-18 to become the 2018 Big Ten Player of the Year while also earning Second Team All-America honors (Sporting News, USBWA). He helped the Buckeyes to the most wins (25) under a first-year head coach in Ohio State history. Bates-Diop also was a 2018 First Team All-Big Ten selection while teammate Tate was named Second Team All-Big Ten. Kaleb Wesson earned a spot on the 2018 Big Ten All-Freshman Team and was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2019.

As a team, the Buckeyes returned to the national rankings prior to a road game at Northwestern in which Ohio State, ranked No. 20 in the weekly Associated Press poll, downed the Wildcats 71-65 Jan. 17, 2018. Ohio State remained in the poll the remainder of the season, reaching as high as the No. 8 spot before ending the season at No. 17.

In three seasons at Butler, Holtmann compiled a record of 70-31 as a member of the BIG EAST conference. In 10 years as a head coach, which includes three years at Gardner-Webb (44-54) and four in Columbus (87-43), his career record is 201-128. His teams have won at least 20 games in each of the last eight seasons.

Butler advanced to the NCAA Tournament in all three seasons with Holtmann as the head coach. He was the 2016-17 BIG EAST Coach of the Year, the 2013 Big South Conference Coach of the Year and a Naismith National Coach of the Year Finalist in 2014-15.

Holtmann in March

Chris Holtmann has guided his last six teams that competed in the NCAA Tournament to at least one NCAA win five of those years (Butler – 2015, ’16, ’17; Ohio State – 2018, 2019).

In 2016-17, Butler advanced to the NCAA “Sweet 16” for the first time since 2011, tallying a 14-5 regular-season record against 12 teams that made the 2017 NCAA Tournament field. Wins over Arizona, Cincinnati, Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Vermont, and Bucknell, in addition to a pair of wins over Villanova, helped the Bulldogs to a second-place finish in the BIG EAST and a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Butler’s win over Villanova at Hinkle Fieldhouse Jan. 4, 2017 was the second win over a No. 1-ranked team in Butler history.

Holtmann, one of only two coaches in Butler history to lead the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first three seasons — Brad Stevens is the other — garnered BIG EAST Coach of the Year honors in 2017, in addition to being named a finalist for the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award. Under Holtmann’s tutelage, Andrew Chrabascz was named first team All-BIG EAST, while Kelan Martin was selected to the All-BIG EAST second team and Kamar Baldwin was voted on to the BIG EAST’s five-member All-Freshman Team in 2016-17.

What They’re Saying

“Chris Holtmann is one of the very best coaches in the country. He is very skilled as a teacher and tactician, and is very principled in his approach. For Chris, winning is a byproduct of doing things the right way, and the cultures he has established reflect just that. Ohio State has a great one in Chris Holtmann. He’s the real thing.” – Jay Bilas, ESPN

In 2015-16, Butler ranked in the Top 25 nationally, scoring 79.9 points per game, and ascended to as high as ninth in the AP poll after opening the season win an 11-1 non-conference record. The 2014-15 campaign, Holtmann’s first leading the Butler program, saw the Bulldogs post a 23-11 record, finish in a tie for second place in the BIG EAST and win at least one game in the NCAA Tournament for the first of three-consecutive seasons. The Bulldogs’ success in his initial season as head coach earned Holtmann a spot as a finalist for both the Naismith National Coach of the Year Award and the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year Award.

Holtmann spent the 2013-14 season as an assistant coach for the Bulldogs before being named interim head coach in October 2014 and then being elevated to head coach at Butler in January 2015.

Holtmann Career Highlights

As a Coach
2013 Big South Coach of the Year
2017 Big East Coach of the Year
2017 CollegeInsider.com National Coach of the Year
2018 Big Ten Coach of the Year
2018 USBWA District V Coach of the Year
2018 NABC District 7 Coach of the Year
2018 Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year
As a Student-Athlete
1994 NAIA All-American

Prior to his time at Butler, Holtmann was head coach at Gardner-Webb for three seasons from 2010-13, leading the Runnin’ Bulldogs to a school Division I record 21 victories in his final season after taking over a program that won just eight games in 2009-10. In his last season at Gardner-Webb, Holtmann garnered Big South Conference and NABC District 3 Coach of the Year laurels.

Before becoming head coach at Gardner-Webb, Holtmann served two seasons as an assistant coach at Ohio University under former Ohio State assistant coach John Groce, and spent five seasons, including four as associate head coach, on the staff at Gardner-Webb

Holtmann, from Nicholasville, Ky., was an NAIA All-American guard at Taylor University, helping guide the Trojans to a 25-9 record, a No. 1 national ranking and a berth in the NAIA National Tournament in 1993-94. After his playing days, Holtmann spent the 1997-98 season as a graduate assistant at Taylor and the 1998-99 season as an assistant at Geneva College before returning to Taylor as an assistant coach under Paul Patterson from 1999-2003. In his last two seasons as an assistant at his alma mater, Holtmann helped lead the Trojans to a 50-16 record, back-to-back conference titles and a ranking in the Top 15 nationally.

Holtmann earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Taylor in 1994 and a master’s degree in athletic administration from Ball State in 2000. He and his wife, Lori, have one daughter, Nora Jane.

Jan 14, 2018; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Chris Holtmann reacts to play on the floor during first half against Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Louis Brown Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 14, 2018; Piscataway, NJ, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Chris Holtmann reacts to play on the floor during first half against Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Louis Brown Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Holtmann Coaching History
2017-present — Ohio State, Head Coach
2014-2017 — Butler University, Head Coach
2013-14 — Butler University, Assistant Coach
2010-13 — Gardner-Webb, Head Coach
2008-10 — Ohio University, Assistant Coach
2003-08 — Gardner-Webb, Assistant Coach/Associate Head Coach
1999-2003 — Taylor University, Assistant Coach
1998-99 — Geneva College, Assistant Coach
1997-98 — Taylor University, Graduate Assistant

YearTeamWinsLossesPct.Conference WinsConference LossesFinishPostseason
2010-11Gardner-Webb1121.3446129th (Big South)
2011-12Gardner-Webb1220.3746129th (Big South)
2012-13Gardner-Webb2113.6181152nd (Big South)CIT First Round
2014-15Butler2311.6761263rd (Big East)NCAA Third Round
2015-16Butler2211.6671084th (Big East)NCAA Third Round
2016-17Butler259.7351262nd (Big East)NCAA Sweet 16
2017-18Ohio State259.7351532nd (Big Ten)NCAA Second Round
2018-19Ohio State2015.5718128th (Big Ten)NCAA Second Round
2019-20Ohio State2110.6771195th (Big Ten)Postseason Canceled
2020-21Ohio State2110.6771285th (Big Ten)NCAA First Round
TOTALS201128.61146 (Big Ten)32 (Big Ten)