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Saturday July 2nd, 2022 6:35AM

Thad Matta returning to Butler for 2nd stint as head coach

By The Associated Press
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Thad Matta is returning to Butler, hired on Sunday to coach the Bulldogs almost five years after he cited his health while stepping down at Ohio State.

The 54-year-old Matta led Butler to a 24-8 record and an appearance in the 2001 NCAA Tournament during his only season as the head coach at his alma mater. He then had successful runs at Xavier and Ohio State.

Matta spent the 2021-22 season as an associate athletic director for basketball administration at Indiana.

Now he's going back to where it all started for him.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to return to Butler and lead our men’s basketball program," Matta said in a release. "There is a solid foundation in place and I’m confident that Butler will consistently be among the top programs in the Big East. I can’t wait to attack the work we have in front of us and to be back on the sidelines at Hinkle Fieldhouse.”

Matta was a two-year starter for Butler after transferring from Southern Illinois as a sophomore. He was an academic coordinator and administrative assistant at Butler from 1991 to 94 and then-coach Barry Collier’s top assistant for the 1999-2000 season.

Matta and his wife, Barb, are Butler graduates. His daughter, Ali, also graduated from the school, and his daughter, Emily, is pursuing her undergraduate degree at Butler.

“The success that Thad has achieved at every one of his programs speaks for itself,” said Collier, who took over as Butler's athletic director in 2006. “He is a championship-caliber coach and recruiter who brings valuable experience and contagious energy to Butler.”

Matta is replacing LaVall Jordan, who was fired Friday after two straight losing seasons. The Bulldogs were 14-19 this season and tied for ninth in the Big East at 6-14.

Butler played in the 2018 NCAA Tournament and was expected to make it back in 2020 before the tournament was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After coaching Butler for the 2000-2001 season, Matta went 78-23 with three NCAA Tournament appearances in three seasons at Xavier. The Musketeers made the 2004 Elite Eight in Matta's last year in charge.

Matta went 337-123 in 13 seasons at Ohio State, leading the Buckeyes to two Final Fours in nine trips to the NCAA Tournament.

After missing two straight tourneys, Matta announced in June 2017 that he was stepping down, citing his health. He had been troubled for years by chronic back problems.

___

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