COLUMBUS, Ohio — Thad Matta’s departure from the Ohio State basketball program was shocking for everyone involved.
The longtime coach of the Buckeyes had been given a vote of confidence by athletic director Gene Smith in March and appeared to have at least one season left at the helm. However, as things went from bad to worse Smith decided the current situation was no longer tenable.
That led to an emotional press conference on Monday, with Smith announcing that Matta was out after 13 seasons. The pair met for a previously scheduled meeting on Friday, and the decision was made that the basketball team needed something different.
“We came to a mutual understanding, and it was time for a change in the basketball program,” Smith said. “This may be a surprise to me. I think it’s the right thing for our program at the right time.”
The news took the college basketball world by storm, especially since it’s rare to see coaching changes two months after the season ends.
In the aftermath of the news, former Ohio State basketball players paid tribute to Matta with posts on Twitter. Despite a recent downturn, Ohio State went to two Final Fours and played for a national championship with Matta as its coach. He exits as the winningest coach in program history and failed to win 20 games in a season just once.
Here’s what former Ohio State basketball players had to say about Matta. Tweets will be added as they come in.
Guard Scoonie Penn
Although I didn't play for Thad, he embraced me to the fullest. Class act, did a great job as our coach. Love him and his family.
— Scoonie Penn (@Scooniep12) June 5, 2017
Guard Mark Titus
Family aside, no one has done more for my life than Coach Matta. Love that man w all my heart and will forever be indebted to him. Go Bucks.
— Mark Titus (@clubtrillion) June 5, 2017
Guard Aaron Craft
Man, words can't describe what Coach meant to me and the program! Wouldn't have wanted to play for anyone else! pic.twitter.com/JmkQtJ8CcW
— Aaron Craft (@ACraft4) June 5, 2017
Center Jared Sullinger
— Jared Sullinger (@Jared_Sully0) June 5, 2017
Forward JJ Sullinger
— James JJ Sullinger (@JJSullinger) June 5, 2017
Guard JaQuan Lyle
Wow..didn't see this coming at all. Nothing but love and respect for Coach Matta!!
— JaQuan Lyle (@JMamba13) June 5, 2017
Forward Evan Ravenel
— Evan Ravenel (@e_rav24) June 5, 2017
Guard David Lighty
Sad to see him go but grateful for everything he has done for me/program on and off the court! As genuine as they come! Love for him always! pic.twitter.com/FLo4zp5Nhc
— Dave Lighty (@OSULighty23) June 5, 2017
Guard Jake Lorbach
Coach Matta took a chance on me, opening a door to a whole new world. Wizard in basketball and a mentor in life. Always and forever my coach
— Jake Lorbach (@BlitzkriegBach) June 5, 2017