Thad Matta is back in coaching — and back at Butler.
The Bulldogs announced Sunday they were hiring Matta as their next head coach.
Matta, who spent the last year as an 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 at every one of his programs speaks for itself,” athletic director Barry Collier said. “He is a championship-caliber coach and recruiter who brings valuable experience and contagious energy to Butler. I have seen that 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 they join all of the Butler community in how excited we are for what’s to come.”
Matta, 54, hasn’t coached in college since 2017, when he stepped down as Ohio State’s head coach. After two down seasons in Columbus, the two sides mutually agreed to part ways that summer, although Matta made it clear in his farewell news conference that he wasn’t the one who prompted the conversation. He had battled health issues for several years, including undergoing back surgery in 2007 and dealing with nerve damage in one of his feet stemming from the operation.
Since then, Matta has been linked to several high-major job openings, including Indiana’s last spring. He showed minimal interest in all of them. He even needed convincing on his return to Butler. Sources told ESPN that intermediaries sounded out Matta’s interest back in February, and there didn’t seem to be much momentum on Matta’s side. Industry sources indicated a more likely return would come on the administrative side. But things began to shift on Friday, and Matta’s hire was made official about 48 hours after Jordan’s departure.
Matta now returns to his alma mater and the place he spent seven seasons as an assistant and head coach. He achieved a tremendous 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 a head coach. In one season at Butler and three seasons at Xavier, he won at least one NCAA tournament game every season — including an Elite Eight run in 2004.
Matta’s wife, Barb, and his daughter Ali are also Butler graduates, while his daughter Emily is pursuing her undergraduate degree at the school.
“Butler is a special place, one that Barb, Ali, Emily and I each chose as our school,” Matta said. “I’m grateful for the opportunity to return to Butler and lead our men’s basketball program. There is a solid foundation in place and I’m confident that Butler will consistently be among the top programs in the Big East. I can’t wait to attack the work we have in front of us and to be back on the sidelines at Hinkle Fieldhouse.”
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 stretch from 2010 to ’13, Ohio State advanced past the first weekend of the NCAA tournament every season, going 13-4 in the tournament over that span.
Matta’s career record is 439-154 overall, with a 337-123 record at Ohio State.