Matta era ends at Ohio State, Smith cites recent recruiting struggles
COLUMBUS (AP) -- Thad Matta is out as men's basketball coach at Ohio State.
He leaves with the top winning percentage in Big 10 Conference history.
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith cited recent recruiting failures as the motivation to consider a change.
Matta led the Buckeyes to 337 wins over 13 seasons, but his players were wildly inconsistent this year. Ohio State lost to Rutgers, the lowest-seeded team, in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, and the Buckeyes were shut out of even the NIT.
Matta took Xavier to the Elite Eight in 2004 and compiled a record of 78-23 in three seasons on Victory Parkway before leaving for Columbus.
But Matta's run at Ohio State ended with his worst season in his 17 years as a head coach, winning fewer than 20 games for the first time and failing to take an eligible team to the postseason. The Buckeyes finished 17-15 -- their second consecutive underachieving season following seven straight trips to the NCAA Tournament.
Matta acknowledged it was one of the toughest times of his career.
“Just from the daily battles that we’ve had just in terms of getting guys ready to play, that sort of thing,” he told The Associated Press in March.
Matta has been troubled by back pain, and surgery complications have left him with a limp. He mentioned “trying to get healthy” as a reason for leaving.
Ohio State said Saturday that JaQuan Lyle, the third-leading scorer last season, had quit the team last month. That came to light after Lyle had been arrested on misdemeanor charges of public intoxication, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct in his Indiana hometown.
Matta was head coach at Butler before coming to Xavier. He was an assistant at Miami and Western Carolina.