position Head Coach
Alma Mater Taylor, 1994
Chris Holtmann begins his fourth season at the helm of the Buckeyes in 2020-21. His three 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).
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 become just the second Ohio State coach to win 20 or more games in each of his first three 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 three years as an Ohio State coach, Holtmann’s 66 combined wins (2018/25, 2019/20, 2020/21) are the third most behind Matta’s 81 victories (in 2005/20, 2006/26, 2007/35) and Ayers’ 70 (1990/17, 1991/27, 1992, 26) in Ohio State history.
Holtmann teams have won an opening-round game in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last five years in which the NCAA Tournament was contested, a feat accomplished by a select group of Division I coaches.
Head Coaches to Lead last 5-Consecutive Teams to
NCAA Tournament Wins
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 eight years as a head coach, which includes three years at Gardner-Webb (44-54) and two in Columbus (45-24), his career record is 159-109. His teams have won at least 20 games in each of the last six 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
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
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
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
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.
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
|Year||Team||Wins||Losses||Pct.||Conference Wins||Conference Losses||Finish||Postseason|
|TOTALS||180||119||.602||34 (Big Ten)||24 (Big Ten)|
|2010-11||Gardner-Webb||11||21||.344||6||12||9th (Big South)|
|2011-12||Gardner-Webb||12||20||.374||6||12||9th (Big South)|
|2012-13||Gardner-Webb||21||13||.618||11||5||2nd (Big South)||CIT First Round|
|2014-15||Butler||23||11||.676||12||6||3rd (Big East)||NCAA Third Round|
|2015-16||Butler||22||11||.667||10||8||4th (Big East)||NCAA Third Round|
|2016-17||Butler||25||9||.735||12||6||2nd (Big East)||NCAA Sweet 16|
|2017-18||Ohio State||25||9||.735||15||3||2nd (Big Ten)||NCAA Second Round|
|2018-19||Ohio State||20||15||.571||8||12||8th (Big Ten)||NCAA Second Round|
|2019-20||Ohio State||21||10||.677||11||9||5th (Big Ten)||Postseason Canceled|