Q&A: Coach Holtmann Discusses Leaving Butler

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Jared Grubbs, Jul 13, 2017.

  1. Jared Grubbs

    Jared Grubbs Administrator Staff Member VIP Member


    Last month I wrote an article expressing the frustrations of a significant section of the Butler fanbase regarding how Chris Holtmann left Butler for Ohio State. It was an instant hit, and I was flooded with positive feedback from Bulldog fans. I managed to capture their feelings perfectly and fans didn’t hesitate to help spread it across the internet. From a traffic standpoint, it was easily the most successful article I’ve ever written for this site.

    Then I got an email from Chris Holtmann. He had been forwarded the article and wanted to address several inaccuracies. While I may have accurately captured the feelings and complaints of the fans, that doesn’t mean they were actually valid.

    College basketball is like an iceberg. Only a small fraction is visible above the surface. Much of what goes on underneath is completely invisible to the fans, and what is seen is often distorted without proper perspective. I didn’t do Coach Holtmann justice by publicizing and spreading frustrations that were based on incomplete or completely inaccurate information. He wanted a chance to set the record straight.

    So I got the chance to ask him about his decision and find out how things really happened. No more rumors, here’s what Coach Holtmann himself had to say about his decision to leave Butler and join Ohio State.

    Explain the timeline for your negotiations with Ohio State. When in the process did you send out the now infamous tweet and what changed after you sent it?

    "I was contacted on Tuesday morning. The search firm called again that afternoon and offered the job contingent upon a meeting with the OSU AD. I spoke with Gene Smith briefly over the phone on Wednesday morning and he asked if we could meet. I told him I wasn't ready or prepared to meet. Later in the day I told the search firm I was leaning toward staying at Butler and couldn't meet.

    On Wednesday night when I sent the tweet out that was based on the decision I had made at that time. It was ill timed and regrettable. I certainly wish I hadn't sent it. I simply changed my mind after sleeping on the decision. I was contacted early Thursday AM and asked if I would reconsider. I made the final decision late on Thursday night."

    Was Butler aware from the beginning that you planned on taking all 3 assistants with you? How much would that have changed if one of them had been awarded the head coaching job at Butler?

    "In the coaching profession it is frowned upon if you don't at least invite your assistants to join you if you take a new job. Sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn't. Assistants are not guaranteed positions with the new coach. Terry and Ryan were both interviewed and I was hopeful one of them would get it. Obviously it would have changed things if they were hired. Mike decided to join me right away and Terry and Ryan both said they would like to come if they were not hired at Butler. Of course there was no reason to keep any of this from Butler, it's pretty common in these transitions."

    What did you tell the returning players and incoming recruits before you left Butler?

    "I'm not going to get into any specifics about what I told our returning players when I called them Friday morning. It will remain a private moment between us. They are an amazing collection of people. As for the recruits, I simple told them I was sorry and they needed to see things through with Butler, that Barry would make a great hire and that he would be in touch with them soon. I also told them I wouldn't be able to contact, talk or text during the process."

    The Indianapolis Star reported that you said you wanted Butler to keep the recruiting class together. Is that accurate, and if so, why did you end up recruiting Kyle Young to Ohio State?

    "Yes. I did say that. I think if you look at previous situations, to maintain 80% of your recruiting class is a major success and a real credit to LaVall, his staff and the process. Kyle's situation was unique given his family situation, his relationship with Ryan and myself over the last 2 years, the fact that he was very seriously considering Ohio State before, as well as the fact that he lives so close. Kyle made it very clear to me when I told him I was leaving that he probably wasn't coming to Butler and there was almost no chance if Ryan wasn't named head coach. I told him to see the process through with Butler with an open mind. I'm not sure if people fully understand, given his family situation, how close that relationship became, and that's fine. Some people will get that, some won't."

    An uncommitted recruit quoted you as talking about how Ohio State would be a better opportunity than Butler. Have you told any recruits this? How do you respond when recruits ask why you are at Ohio State now instead of Butler?

    "I have never mentioned any other schools to recruits. If anyone asks I'm honest. It was a very difficult decision and I left an incredible place and school for a great opportunity here at OSU. That's all I've ever said publicly and privately to anyone."

    There was a tweet that got a lot of attention that claimed the $3 million yearly OSU salary would nearly triple your salary and sourced your agent. It was later deleted for being incorrect. Do you know anything about this tweet, where the info came from, or why it was sent out?

    I have no idea where that tweet came from. It did not come from myself or anyone connected to me. To be honest, I'm not aware of what you are mentioning. It's an uncomfortable topic but I realize people are curious. For anyone to insinuate that I, or anyone connected to me, somehow leaked false reports regarding my salary to justify the decision is completely inaccurate. I understand some media members may have checked my tax return to get a better gauge and that is their right to do that.

    All I will say is I was very well compensated at Butler. I will always be very grateful to Barry, President Danko, and Butler for this. Obviously my situation was a little different early because I came in as an interim and compensation is naturally different until you prove capable of the job. I never had a problem with that. I did not triple my salary in making this move.”

    How much did resources beyond salary, such as facilities, play a role in the decision to go to Ohio State? How much of a hurdle was it not having a practice facility at Butler, both in actually practicing as well as recruiting.

    “I think we were resourced well at Butler. The Hinkle renovations are stunning and, while it's not my place to discuss what they may do in the future, I'm excited about the possibilities. Barry was always open when discussions regarding a practice area came up. The thing to remember is the access to Hinkle our players had is incredible and that is not the case most places. In addition, game day at Hinkle with that fan base, wow! It spoils you! While I think it's always important to be proactive when it comes to enhancements, I think we were moving in a great direction and always looked at Hinkle, as well as some of the incredible enhancements on campus (new dorms for example) as advantages in recruiting.”

    How do you feel about the future of Butler basketball and what you left behind for LaVall Jordan and his staff to build off of?

    “I think LaVall is outstanding. I really do. I obviously would have loved for someone from our staff to become the head coach. I was hopeful for that. I'm happy for Emerson and Brandon, however. They are high level guys. It looks like he has hired an outstanding staff.

    I think we felt very good about our team and the health of our program heading into 2017-18. Perhaps as much as any time in our tenure. We were young and knew there would be expectations but recruiting had went well and high character, talented guys returned. We loved our team and players. I want to be careful though, to not project too much on LaVall and his staff, it is his team and program now. I really think there are very exciting years ahead under his leadership.”

    Coach Holtmann closed with a final statement for Butler fans:

    "I've always struggled with the idea that in a higher profile position it is impossible to please everyone. I understand that some people will have their thoughts and opinions and nothing I say will change it. I've come to grips with that fact. And while I had second thoughts and debated a bit with Jared on even allowing these answers to be put out there, I think it's ultimately the right thing. When you coach at Butler, relationships run deep. These last three years taught me that. Our family will always be incredibly grateful for the support of so many."
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  2. BulldogsAllTheWay

    BulldogsAllTheWay Well-Known Member

    Good work, Jared.

    With that said, I don't care about any of this. It's a late night drunk text from a girl who just dumped you. Holtmann did this interview to make himself feel better. Nothing more, nothing less.
    tominsalem and butlerdude05 like this.
  3. HinkleLegend

    HinkleLegend New Member

    Coach saying that KY wasn't coming to Butler regardless makes a difference to me. For me that's the only thing I was truly mad at. I didnt like him stealing a Butler recruit.
  4. Irishdawg

    Irishdawg Banned User

    Thanks for doing this Jared, and while I am and have been ready to move on from this whole thing for a while now, I appreciate the fact that you were able to ask those questions directly to Holtmann.
  5. SpartanDawgs

    SpartanDawgs Well-Known Member

    "Barry was always open when discussions regarding a practice area came up."

    Great write up but that quote was the best sentence I read. Barry knows!
    jkcdawgs likes this.
  6. BU_NeonHat

    BU_NeonHat Well-Known Member

    Let's be honest, it is definitely common knowledge that a lot of recruits commit to coaches, not schools. Especially considering KY's family situation and a 2-year relationship with Holtmann and Pedon, I wasn't surprised he followed them to OSU. Yeah it sucks to lose your prize recruit, but I don't have any hard feelings towards KY for wanting to be with the coaches he felt comfortable with.
  7. seadawg

    seadawg Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Nice work Jared. Let's all move forward and leave the hate behind. Of course I'll never be an OSU fan, but then again I never was.
    Insane Dawg likes this.
  8. Mark Shelvin

    Mark Shelvin Well-Known Member

    "I did not triple my salary in making this move.”

    Suck it, local and national media narrative. Just because he has plausible deniability does not mean those acting on his behalf didn't place that narrative in the ether.

    Of course all these answers are self-serving and don't change any of my feelings about the horrible way this whole thing went down.
  9. butlerdude05

    butlerdude05 Well-Known Member

    Why give CH a chance to explain? He's a smart man, what would one expect to find reading through his answers? It's like keeping tabs on your ex's - - it really serves no purpose. I don't have any ill feelings towards CH just surprised people still care about what he has to say. The timing sucks but I still think Butler gained during this transition by getting LJ.

    Sent from my SM-G935P using Butler Hoops mobile app
  10. Jared Grubbs

    Jared Grubbs Administrator Staff Member VIP Member

    I think it's important for people to know that the reasons they were upset with Holtmann for leaving simply aren't true. Yeah, it sucks that he left Butler, but he didn't do anything wrong in the way he did it. This might not apply to you specifically, but there are plenty of people who were upset with HOW he left, and hearing his side of the story helps calm some of that frustration.
  11. Mark Shelvin

    Mark Shelvin Well-Known Member

    It's interesting to me that this is your take away. I'm not sure what else he could have possibly been expected to say, regardless of the truth?

    I guess I tend to not believe most of what he says in his responses or else what he does say doesn't really have an impact on whether I think he was in the wrong.
  12. DawgFan14

    DawgFan14 Active Member

    Man, we truly are some salty fans. If you don't care to read it, then don't. I enjoyed hearing things from Holtmann's POV, even though nothing surprised me as I suspected these would be his answers. I don't care if he did this for himself or not, but there are plenty of fans that would love to read this (maybe just not the pissy ones on here).

    Being completely unbiased, I can see why Holtmann would leave for OSU, especially considering it's a position he highly revered. I'm not going to hold that against him. I would have loved for him and the staff to stay, but it happens. I also don't blame him, like so many people on social media, for taking the entire staff with him. The only problems I had, were with the false salary leak and KY. Idk who leaked the false salary, although it could have been his agent without Holtmann's knowledge. Either way, I don't really care.

    As for the KY situation. I figured it being a unique situation that he would follow Holt to OSU. I was upset by it at first, especially given Hotlmann's statement, but I can recognize how this situation is different.
    indienapolis and Jared Grubbs like this.
  13. Jared Grubbs

    Jared Grubbs Administrator Staff Member VIP Member

    That's understandable. When I first talked to him though it wasn't even with the idea of writing any follow up article. I actually talked to him about more than what was written here. He was sincere with what he said, and I 100% believe everything he told me, and everything that is published in this article.

    Most coaches wouldn't have even addressed any of the rumors. They wouldn't care what their old supporters thought. I thought doing this interview was pretty classy of him. What does he have to gain by appeasing Butler fans?
    ButlerNut, Insane Dawg, fdr and 4 others like this.
  14. butlerdude05

    butlerdude05 Well-Known Member

    It's not like in the past where our coaches greatly improved their job level. For the most part, butler wasnt recruiting the same players as Nebraska, Iowa, heck even Xavier when Matta left, so it was okay to still root for them to succeed if you wanted to. Butler and Ohio State are equal and go after the same recruits. He already took KY and all of the 2018 traction with him. We are giving another HC articles/headlines and giving him a chance to explain. Who cares what happened? He's not here. LJ is. If I want to read holtmann stuff ill nosy on over to tosu boards. It's a live recruiting period and im seeing a lot of tosu retweets, likes, etc on Twitter and on the message board. Not a good look. I get they were here for awhile and just left a month ago but they are now the competition (Not directed at Jared or this specific article, just a general vent)

    Sent from my SM-G935P using Butler Hoops mobile app
    Dunhamfor3 likes this.
  15. SchlabbaDawg

    SchlabbaDawg Active Member

    Excellent work Jared. Sucks Holt left, but it is pretty cool that he agreed to do the interview. Excited about the team and what LaVall can do moving forward.
  16. ButlerAlumDad716

    ButlerAlumDad716 Well-Known Member VIP Member

    The future interview I would like to see the 2nd weekend March 2018 is a FOX Sportswriter, CBS Sportswriter or ESPN Sportswriter asking CH if he now thinks he made a poor decision as BU heads to the "Sweet 16" and "THE" OSU was only able to go to a "pay to play" tournament.
  17. MIBulldog

    MIBulldog Well-Known Member VIP Member

    Good work, Jared. Chris didn't have to do this and I bet we'd be hard pressed to find another situation where a departing coach did an interview with his previous teams fan board to discuss why he left. I think it speaks volumes for how people feel when associated with this program and university. I'm moving on. I thank Holt for his time. It's LaVall time now. Let's move on. Go Dawgs!
    ButlerNut, fdr, indienapolis and 3 others like this.
  18. Red1972

    Red1972 Well-Known Member

    At least he owned up to the fact the tweet was a mistake on his part and regretted it, as for the rest I really did not care to hear his side. He is gone, he will have success in the future because he can recruit and next to Stevens there is probably no better in game coach. It is time to move on get behind LaVall, his staff, and players. If we do meet in the PK80 I want to see the Dawgs kick their ass. One more thing we need a practice facility, we are in big boy league let's act like it, or get the hell out of the Big East. Scrambling around looking around for floor time is unacceptable. Case closed!
  19. DawgFan14

    DawgFan14 Active Member

    I don't think Butler and OSU are equal in terms of programs/job. Can we beat OSU on an open floor? Absolutely. But they are not equal jobs. And a big reason we went after the same recruits (and won) was because of Holt & Co. I expect us to take a step back, at least for a year or two.
    THicksBH and SpartanDawgs like this.
  20. kmacker69

    kmacker69 Well-Known Member VIP Member

    That he cared to even address the hard feelings shows that he did care about the Butler and it's fans. Still hope he loses every game at OSU. (Never liked them and never will.) He's now at a competing school, so thanks for the good times and I hold no personal animosity, but your new school can suck it!

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