Thad Matta returns to coaching, takes Butler Bulldogs men’s basketball job

Thad Matta is back as coach, and back at Butler.

The Bulldogs announced Sunday that they would hire Matta as their next head coach.

Matta, who spent the last year as associate athletic director at Indiana, replaces LaVall Jordan, who was fired Friday after five seasons as Butler’s head coach.

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

Matta, 54, hasn’t coached in college since 2017, when he stepped down as Ohio State’s head coach. After two off-seasons in Columbus, the two sides mutually agreed to part ways that summer, though Matta made it clear at his farewell news conference that he wasn’t the one who started the conversation. He had battled health problems for several years, including back surgery in 2007 and nerve damage in one of his feet as a result of the operation.

Since then, Matta has been linked to several big job offers, including the one from Indiana last spring. He showed minimal interest in all of them. He even needed to be convinced of his return to Butler. Sources told ESPN that brokers sounded out Matta’s interest in February and there didn’t seem to be much momentum on Matta’s side. Industry sources indicated that a more likely return would come from the management side. But things began to change on Friday, and Matta’s hire became official about 48 hours after Jordan’s departure.

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

Matta now returns to his alma mater and the place where he spent seven seasons as an assistant and head coach. He achieved an enormous amount of success during his time at Butler, Xavier and Ohio State, going to the NCAA tournament in 13 of his first 15 seasons as head coach. In one season at Butler and three seasons at Xavier, he won at least one NCAA tournament game each season, including an Elite Eight run in 2004.

During his 12 seasons at Ohio State, Matta guided the Buckeyes to two Final Four appearances, including an appearance in the 2007 national championship game, where they lost to Florida. In a four-year span from 2010 to 2013, Ohio State advanced past the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament each season, going 13-4 in the tournament during that span.

Matta’s career record is 439-154 overall, with a 337-123 record at Ohio State.

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