Ohio State fires men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann

Ohio State is in the market for a men’s basketball coach.

The school announced Wednesday afternoon Chris Holtmann has been fired after six-plus seasons in Columbus. He will be owed $12.8 million for the remainder of a contract that runs through 2028.

Associate head coach Jake Diebler will serve as interim head coach for the rest of the season beginning Sunday when Ohio State plays host to No. 2 Purdue.

“I want to express my appreciation toward Chris for the first-class program, and the well-respected program, he has run here at Ohio State,” Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith said in a news release. “He and his wife, Lori, are wonderful people. I thank each of them for their seven years here in Columbus and I wish them well.”

With Smith set to retire this summer, the school said incoming A.D. Ross Bjork will lead the search for Holtmann’s replacement.

Bjork is set to start at Ohio State as a senior advisor on March 1 and officially replace Smith on July 1.

Ohio State fell to 14-11 with a 62-54 loss at Wisconsin on Wednesday night.

That clinched a losing Big Ten record for the Buckeyes, who are 4-10 in the league with six games to go.

Holtmann has a career record of 251-171 as a head coach, including a 137-86 mark at Ohio State.

Holtmann’s tenure started with much optimism and some success before burning out slowly over the last three years.

He arrived from Butler in the summer of 2017 with a reputation for his teams finishing above where they were picked in the preseason.

That happened again in his first season at Ohio State, when the Buckeyes upped their win total by eight and finished tied for second in the Big Ten.

They have not finished higher than fourth since and dropped to 13th last season despite bringing in the nation’s No. 8 recruiting class.

Ohio State has not won the Big Ten regular season championship since 2012 or made the Sweet 16 since 2013.

The Buckeyes are in their longest conference title drought since they failed to win one from 1972-90, and they last went more than seven years without making the Sweet 16 in 1972-79.

Since the NCAA Tournament began in 1939, the program had never gone 10 years without a conference title or Sweet 16 appearance until last year.

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