The illustrious Thad Matta Era at Ohio State is over.
The school announced Monday afternoon that Matta, who spent 13 seasons leading the basketball program, is no longer the head coach, effectively immediately. Athletics director Gene Smith said a national search will start immediately, as well.
Matta and Smith reflected on Matta's longtime health issues and the effects those have had on the success of the program, specifically in recruiting. Matta's situation got worse when lifelong back issues were joined by a permanent foot disability after a botched 2007 surgery. The two said Monday that they talked about what was best for the program and agreed it was time for Matta to step away.
Matta is the program's all-time winningest coach, and he took the Buckeyes to a national championship game and a pair of Final Fours. But the last few years of his tenure have not gone nearly as well.
A pair of first-weekend exits from the NCAA tournament were followed by back-to-back seasons without invitations to the Big Dance. Recruiting successes haven't been as prevalent, either, and this past season, the Buckeyes failed to win 20 games for the first time since Matta arrived in Columbus. This offseason, Ohio State missed out on some transfers and recruits, which Smith said played a part in this decision.
Matta's health issues obviously had a detrimental effect on the success of his program, so much so that when asked if he would still be the coach were he 100-percent healthy, Matta responded that he thinks he probably would be.
While the end is not what anyone wanted it to be, Matta's tenure was undoubtedly a remarkable success.
He led the Buckeyes to nine NCAA tournament appearances, including a trip to the national championship game, a pair of Final Fours, three Elite Eights and five Sweet Sixteens. Matta-coached teams won a combined nine Big Ten championships, with three of his squads capturing regular-season and conference-tournament titles in the same season.
Matta sent had 10 of his Ohio State players selected in the NBA Draft, including eight first-round picks: Greg Oden, Mike Conley, Daequan Cook, Kosta Koufos, Byron Mullens, Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger and D'Angelo Russell.
Matta finished his run at Ohio State with a 337-123 record at the school, the program's all-time leader in wins, with a 150-78 mark in Big Ten play.
The Buckeyes' search will start right away, and Matta will have a role, according to Smith, in picking his successor.