Chris Holtmann (born November 11, 1971) is an American basketball coach who is currently the head coach at Ohio State University.
Holtmann grew up in Nicholasville, Kentucky, before playing basketball at Taylor University. In 1994, his senior year, he earned All-America honors and Taylor hit number one in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) rankings. Holtmann got his start in coaching as a graduate assistant at Taylor in 1997. The next year, he became an assistant coach at Geneva College, then returned to his alma mater as an assistant in 1999.
Holtmann joined Gardner-Webb's staff in 2002 and spent the next five seasons there, first as an assistant coach and then as associate head coach. After two seasons as an assistant at Ohio, he returned to Gardner-Webb as head coach. At Gardner-Webb, he led a successful rebuilding effort culminating in the school's first Division I postseason appearance in 2013. He was named conference and district coach of the year for his efforts.
In July 2013, Holtmann left Gardner-Webb to become an assistant coach at Butler. In October 2014, he took over the program as interim head coach when Brandon Miller requested a medical leave of absence from the university. On January 2, 2015, Holtmann was named the permanent head coach.
On June 9, 2017, Holtmann left Butler to become the head coach at Ohio State.
Early life and college
Chris Holtmann grew up in Nicholasville, Kentucky. He played high school basketball at Jessamine County High School, and was recruited by NAIA Hall of Fame coach Paul Patterson to play at Taylor University. In 1994, Holtmann earned All-America honors as the captain of Taylor, which hit number one on the NAIA rankings. At Taylor, he played alongside his future boss, John Groce.
Holtmann graduated from Taylor in 1994 with a degree in psychology. In 2000, he earned a master's degree in athletic administration from Ball State.
Holtmann began his coaching career as a graduate assistant working for Patterson at Taylor University in 1997. He spent the following year as an assistant coach at Geneva College before returning to his alma mater as an assistant coach. At Taylor, his coaching duties included coordinating recruiting. During his last two years there, the team won its conference and finished in the NAIA top 15 both years. Patterson later described Holtmann as "a bright, energetic, tireless worker who has been a high achiever his entire career."
In 2002, Holtmann joined the staff of Gardner-Webb. He spent the next five seasons with the university, first an assistant coach, then as associate head coach for the last four years. While at Gardner-Webb, he earned a reputation as a defensive tactician and a strong recruiter. During the 2007–08 season, the team led the Atlantic Sun Conference in three-point field goal defense, and was second in overall field goal percentage defense. During Holtmann's tenure, Gardner-Webb twice had recruiting classes ranked in the top 100. He recruited two-time Atlantic Sun Defensive Player of the Year, Tim Jennings, 2008 Atlantic Sun Player of the Year, Thomas Sanders, and 2008 Freshman of the Year, Nate Blank. Holtmann was also responsible for recruiting 2009 All-American Aaron Linn before leaving the school.
In 2008, Holtmann was the first hire of new Ohio Bobcats head coach John Groce. At Ohio, he was in charge of developing the team's wings and assisted with coordinating the team's defensive efforts. During his first year at Ohio, the team led the Mid-American Conference (MAC) in three-point field goal percentage for the first time in school history, thanks largely to strong play from the wings. Under Holtmann's tutelage, Steven Coleman led the league in field goal percentage and steals among freshmen, en route to MAC All-Freshman Team honors. On defense, Ohio turned in the sixth-lowest opponent field goal percentage in the program's history.
The following year, Ohio had the MAC's top-rated recruiting class for the second straight year, including freshman of the year D.J. Cooper. The team won the MAC and advanced to the NCAA tournament. Seeded 14th, the team upset 3rd-seeded Georgetown. After the season, Holtmann left Ohio to accept the head coaching position at Gardner-Webb for the 2010–11 season. At the time, Groce called him "an exceptional coach but an even better person."
Head coach at Gardner-Webb
In the 2009–10 season, the year before Holtmann arrived, Gardner-Webb won eight games. During his first season, the team got off to 6–4 start before finishing 11–21 with eight losses by three points or less. The following season, Gardner-Webb went 12–20.
For the 2012–13 season, Gardner-Webb was predicted to finish fifth among the six schools of the Big South's South Division. Instead, Holtmann led Gardner-Webb to a school-record (since joining Division I in 2002) 21 wins, including wins in 10 of their last 11 regular-season games. At 21–13, the team finished second overall in the Big South Conference. They had the highest Rating Percentage Index (RPI) in the league, and the highest in team history. Gardner-Webb lost by three points in the semi-finals of the conference tournament, but was selected to participate in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT). It was the first Division I postseason appearance in the school's history. Holtmann won Big South Coach of the Year honors, and was named as the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) District 3 Coach of the Year. He was also a finalist for the Hugh Durham Award for mid-major coach of the year. After the season, Holtmann was granted a contract extension through 2018.
On July 15, 2013, Holtmann left Gardner-Webb to join the Butler staff as an assistant coach under Brandon Miller. Explaining his decision, Miller said Holtmann's experience "speaks for itself" and added "his values and what he stands for, who he is as a person, fits Butler University." Upon his departure, Gardner-Webb described Holtmann's tenure as a successful major rebuilding effort. Vice President Chuck Burch remarked, "We are grateful for the resurgence Chris created here at Gardner-Webb. He will be sorely missed, both on and off the court." Every senior he coached during his three years there earned a degree.
After one year as an assistant coach, Holtmann was named interim head coach on October 2, 2014 when Miller took a medical leave of absence. As interim coach, he guided Butler to a 10–4 start including a third-place finish in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament. On the basis of the strong start, Butler was ranked as high as #15 in the AP Poll. On January 2, 2015, the interim tag was removed and Holtmann became the 23rd head coach of the Butler University men's basketball team. Announcing the decision, athletic director Barry Collier said Holtmann had "coached successfully in a difficult situation" and embodied The Butler Way as interim coach.
Upon receiving the job, Holtmann commented "The Butler Way resonates with who I am, who I want to be, who I'm trying to be, and with my family and our values."
Jeff Goodman of ESPN has described Holtmann as "a guy who just flat-out gets it. He has a tremendous work ethic, connects with his players, can recruit and also knows the game." Recruiting expert Dave Telep said Holtmann "has always done a good job with his [player] evaluations" and said few coaches work harder than him. During his career, Holtmann has recruited seven all-conference players. Thirteen players he coached or recruited have gone on to play professionally.
The Bulldogs surged into the polls in the early portion of the 2016–17 season, beating eventual NCAA Tournament teams Northwestern, Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Arizona, Bucknell, and Vermont en route to an 11–1 non-conference start. Holtmann won Big East Coach of the Year honors after guiding the Bulldogs to a second-place finish (they were picked in the preseason to finish sixth ), which included a season sweep of defending champion Villanova. Butler's 12–6 mark in conference play was the best of their four-season history in the Big East. The Bulldogs also earned a 4th seed, their highest seed in program history, in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.
Holtmann was named head coach at OSU on June 9, 2017, replacing Thad Matta.
Holtmann is married. He and his wife, Lori (née Bedi), have a daughter named Nora Jane (born May 19, 2010).
Head coaching record
|Gardner–Webb Runnin' Bulldogs (Big South Conference)|
|2012–13||Gardner–Webb||21–13||11–5||2nd||CIT First Round|
|Gardner-Webb:||44–54 (.449)||23–29 (.442)|
|Butler Bulldogs (Big East Conference)|
|2014–15||Butler||23–11||12–6||T–2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2015–16||Butler||22–11||10–8||T–4th||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2016–17||Butler||25–9||12–6||2nd||NCAA Division I Sweet 16|
|Butler:||70–31 (.693)||34–20 (.630)|
|Ohio State Buckeyes (Big Ten Conference)|
|2017–18||Ohio State||25–9||15–3||T–2nd||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2018–19||Ohio State||20–15||8–12||T–8th||NCAA Division I Round of 32|
|2019–20||Ohio State||21–10||11–9||T–5th||NCAA Division I Canceled|
|Ohio State:||66–34 (.660)||34–24 (.586)|