Butler hires Thad Matta: Ex-Ohio State coach Xavier returns as Bulldogs program causes sensation

Butler announced Sunday that he was hiring Thad Matta as the next men’s basketball coach after the school fired LaVall Jordan on Friday after five seasons. Matta is a former Butler guard who served as the program’s head coach for the 2000-01 season before stops at Xavier and Ohio State. Matta has not been coaching since the end of the 2016-17 season, which was his 13th as head coach at Ohio State.

“The success Thad has achieved in each of his programs speaks for itself,” Butler athletic director Barry Collier said. “He’s a championship-caliber coach and scout who brings valuable experience and infectious energy to Butler. I’ve seen that personally in Thad as a player, assistant coach and head coach. The Matta – Thad family, Barb, Ali and Emily – has a deep appreciation for Butler and I know they join the entire Butler community in our excitement for what is to come.”

Matta, 54, boasts a 439-154 career. He took the Buckeyes to the Final Four in 2007 and 2012. Ohio State finished 17-15 (7-11 Big Ten) in its senior season and missed the NCAA Tournament for a second straight campaign. In June 2017, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith announced that Matta would not be returning. Indiana hired Matta as associate athletic director for basketball last March, a role he’s been in for a year.

“Butler is a special place, one that Barb, Ali, Emily and I each chose as our school,” Matta said. “I am grateful to have the opportunity to return to Butler and lead our men’s basketball program. There is a solid foundation in place and I am confident that Butler will always be among the best programs in the Greater East. J I can’t wait to tackle the work we have ahead of us and be back on the sidelines at Hinkle Fieldhouse.”

Jordan’s ousting for Matta marks a significant shake-up within the Butler basketball family. Matta coached Jordan for three seasons as an assistant under Collier, who is now the sporting director. When Collier left after the 1999-00 season to become Nebraska’s coach, Matta was promoted to manager for the 2000-01 season.

With Jordan as the second leading scorer, this team became Butler’s first team to win an NCAA Tournament game since 1962. Matta then left for Xavier’s job. The Musketeers were in the Atlantic 10 at the time, which was a better league than Butler’s Midwestern Collegiate Conference. In the years since, Butler called the Horizon League and A-10 home before joining the Big East for the 2013-14 season after his rise to national prominence under Brad Stevens.

Butler reached the 2018 NCAA Tournament under Jordan in his freshman season after taking over from Chris Holtmann, who left to replace Matta at Ohio State. The Bulldogs never returned to the Big Dance during Jordan’s tenure, although the 2020 team was on track for a bid with a 22-9 record before the event was canceled due to COVID- 19.

Jordan’s dismissal came at the end of the 2022 coaching change cycle, at a time when nearly every other major position that opened up had already been filled. The timing was attributable to Jordan’s buyout figure dropping on Friday, according to CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander.

It turned out that Matta was waiting on the bridge to be introduced less than 48 hours later.

“Thad Matta is an exceptional choice to lead our men’s basketball program,” Butler President James Danko said. “In Thad, Butler gets a first-class person who has put together one of the strongest resumes in all of college basketball over the past few decades. He’s a Bulldog who epitomizes the excellence and character we hope for. that all of our graduates aspire to achieve in their respective industries and in their daily lives.Our basketball program is in good hands under Thad’s leadership.

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