Asked what changed since the end of a regular season in which the Buckeyes went 17-15, Smith said, “We weren’t winning recruiting battles I thought we might have a chance to win, as he did.”
PHOTOS: Thad Matta through the years at Ohio State
An emotional Matta appeared with Smith at a press conference Monday in Columbus and said he agreed with the decision.
“I want what’s best for the program and if it’s not me being here, I respect it,” Matta said.
Smith said the final three years of Matta’s contract will be honored.
According to the I-Team Payroll Project, Matta was paid $3,386,880 last year, making him the school's second highest-paid employee behind football coach Urban Meyer ($4,612,510).
Matta is Ohio State’s all-time winningest coach, but the program has been in decline over the past few seasons, including a two-year NCAA tournament drought.
He has taken the Buckeyes to two Final Fours and won five Big Ten regular season championships.
Matta received a vote of confidence from Smith in March before the Buckeyes lost their season finale to Rutgers in the Big Ten tournament.
Smith said a national search will be conducted to find Matta’s replacement.