This afternoon, Thad Matta was fired from Ohio State after there was some speculation that he would be around for another season. Matta was the Buckeyes’ men’s basketball coach for the last 13 seasons where he had an overall record of 439 wins and only 154 losses. Matta managed to take a struggling Buckeyes program and turn it into a Big Ten powerhouse after reaching the Final Four in 2007 and 2012 while also winning four Big Ten tournament championships.
Matta’s firing seems like a bit of a shock to some but the firing supposedly had to do with other factors besides his team’s poor 17-15 record last season. Matta was dealing with various health issues that affecting his ability to walk resulting from a botched back surgery that he had nearly a decade ago. That botched surgery has affected his right foot which he no longer has the ability to lift.
According to Sporting News, Matta originally agreed to retire after one more season with the Buckeyes. However, about two hours after that was reported, new reports came out that Matta was out as Head Coach effective immediately.
“I went through a year where I couldn’t walk. Couldn’t take my shoes off after a game.” said Motta via Nicole Auerbach of USA Today.
As tempting as it may have been for Ohio State to stick with its coach for another season, the Buckeyes got this one right. The most important thing for Matta right now is his health and he will now receive necessary time to recuperate. Matta was also asked by reporters if he would still be the coach assuming that he was completely healthy. Matta said that, if healthy, he probably would have still been coach via Rob Dauster of NBC Sports.
If Matta’s injuries are too much to handle and he is forced to permanently retire, he will be considered one of the best coaches in NCAA basketball history. In his 17 year coaching career, Matta had a winning percentage of 74% which would rank him 29th all time in NCAA men’s basketball history for win percentage as a coach.
Prior to his stint at Ohio State, Matta also thrived in Butler and Xavier where he had a combined record of 102 wins and 13 losses over five seasons. After going 26-11 with Xavier and taking them to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, he decided to make the leap to Ohio State in 2004.
Ohio State has officially started looking for a new coach. However, one can only speculate at the moment who will be Matta’s successor. One potential issue that remains involves the current basketball players who committed to Ohio State specifically for Matta’s tutelage. With Matta now gone, these players could potentially transfer to other schools in search of proper guidance by another highly regarded coach.