Since the formation of the school’s basketball program, the Butler Bulldogs have had 23 different head coaches.
Of those 23 coaches, exactly one has had previous NCAA coaching experience before taking the helm at Butler.
Any guesses on who that man might be?
That’s right. It’s Chris Holtmann.
Prior to coming to Butler as an assistant (more on that shortly), Holtmann played his college basketball at Taylor University. If you don’t know Taylor University by name, surely you know them from having one of the coolest traditions in all of college athletics.
After his playing days wrapped up, Holtmann became an assistant coach at Pennsylvania’s Geneva College for a couple years before returning to Taylor as an assistant. After Taylor, Holtmann headed to Gardner-Webb for his first Division I assistant coaching job.
By 2008, Holtmann was on the rise in coaching circles. When his former Taylor teammate John Groce got hired at Ohio University, Holtmann was the first call he made.
After just two seasons at Ohio, the Gardner-Webb head coaching job opened up. Holtmann made his way back to North Carolina where he took over the Runnin’ Bulldogs. Gardner-Webb progressed annually under Holtmann, and by 2012-13, the team won 21 games and played in the CIT.
Following that strong season, Holtmann was on the move yet again. New Butler head coach Brandon Miller offered Holtmann his top assistant job, which Holtmann accepted. The timing couldn’t have been better for Holtmann, as Butler was set to move into a major conference.
Miller and Holtmann’s first season at Butler was certainly different from what the school had experienced under Brad Stevens. The team went 14-17 and 4-14 in conference play.
In October 2014, it was announced Brandon Miller would be taking an indefinite medical leave of absence and Holtmann would be named the interim head coach. Holtmann led Butler to an 11-5 record in nonconference play, and was named the new head coach on January 2, 2015. The Bulldogs finished the year 23-11 and picked up an NCAA Tournament victory over Texas.
In May, Holtmann was extended through the 2021-22 season. While Butler didn’t disclose the financials (Big East schools are private, therefore not required to disclose), it is widely believed Holtmann received a raise. While an extension doesn’t necessarily guarantee Holtmann will remain behind the bench at Butler through the duration, it certainly helps the chances.