Ohio State’s board of trustees on Friday officially approved the contract of men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann on the same day it finalized its end-of-employment agreement with Holtmann's predecessor, Thad Matta.
Holtmann’s contract is an eight-season deal that runs through June 30, 2025, and will pay him roughly $2.7 million per year plus additional benefits and incentives. The benefits, which include a $300,000 annual payment on a life insurance policy, bring Holtmann's annual compensation to $3 million.
He will also receive a one-time lump sum payment of $2,040,360 within 30 days of the execution of the agreement.
Athletic director Gene Smith said Thursday that the overall package makes Holtmann among the nation’s 10 best-compensated coaches, matching his expectations for the program.
“We obviously expect our performance to be at that level or higher,” Smith said. “It (the contract) has some nice incentive bonuses in it consistent with our other coaches and with what other people do nationally. We thought, considering what he was inheriting, we ought to give him a little time to get it rebuilt. Now, he's moving a lot faster than I anticipated, fortunately, but that's why we went with (eight years).”
Hired from Butler in early June, Holtmann has the Buckeyes at 19-5 overall, 10-1 in the Big Ten and ranked No. 17 in the country. The length of his contract was questioned by talent and compensation committee chair W.G. “Jerry” Jurgensen, who expressed concerns about other schools, specifically in Texas, moving toward lengthy contracts or guaranteed contracts.
“I hope this doesn't set a new threshold that we all end up being up against,” Jurgensen said.
Smith said five- to seven-year contracts are typical for first-year football or basketball coaches.
"There's a critically important part of it, as we've certainly seen, to have a contract that's long enough that in the living room of a high school parent, the parent expects the coach to be there through the entire time the young man or young woman is in school," Ohio State President Michael V. Drake said.
The contract was agreed upon Thursday and formally finalized Friday.
After being fired in June after 13 seasons with the university, Matta was determined to have earned $9,001,096.86 for the 2017 calendar year including a lump sum payout of $4,316,025.95 on Dec. 29. That lump sum will then impact his subsequent monthly payments, which are:
— $122,547.61 each month from January 1 through June 30, 2018
— $128,797.61 each month from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019
— $135,047.61 each month from July 1, 2019, through June 30, 2020
He will also receive medical benefits, which will cease should he land a new, comparable job. The agreement cites Section 5.2 of his contract, which covers termination by Ohio State other than for cause.
It also states that Matta “has an obligation to make reasonable and diligent efforts … to obtain a comparable position,” citing examples such as becoming a media commentator with a national broadcast, a professional head or assistant coach or a head men’s basketball coach within the Big Ten, Southeastern, Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big 12, Pac 10, Atlantic 10, Conference USA or Mountain West conferences.
Assuming he lands such a job, Ohio State will not be obligated to continue its monthly payments and Matta would be required to repay a percentage of the money already paid.
Dispatch reporter Jennifer Smola contributed to this report.