Wednesday night No. 18 Butler defeated defending national champion and top-ranked Villanova, 66-58, at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Andrew Chrabascz and Kethan Savage led four double-digit scorers with 13 points apiece, and down the stretch Butler’s work on the defensive end of the floor kept Villanova from extending their win streak to 21 games. Butler now has two wins in its history over top-ranked teams, with the first coming against then-No. 1 Indiana at the 2012 Crossroads Classic.
Leading the Butler program is head coach Chris Holtmann, who took over in an interim role during the 2014-15 season. Here’s what you need to know about Holtmann’s coaching career, path to Butler and his family.
1. Holtmann Joined the Butler Coaching Staff in 2013
Less than two weeks after being named the new head coach at Butler in July 2013, replacing Brad Stevens, Brandon Miller announced the addition of Holtmann to his coaching staff. Holtmann spent the three seasons prior to his move to Butler at Gardner-Webb, where he was that program’s head coach. Holtmann made the decision to join Miller’s staff despite agreeing to a contract extension at Gardner-Webb that was supposed to run through the 2017-18 season.
2. Holtmann Took Over as Interim Head Coach in October 2014
In early October 2014, Butler announced that Miller would be taking a medical leave of absence from the program, with Holtmann being named interim head coach. In Miller’s first season at the helm, which was also Butler’s first season in the reconfigured Big East, the Bulldogs went 14-17 overall and won just four of their 18 conference games. At the time of Miller’s leave of absence it was unknown when (or if) he would return, with Holtmann ultimately leading the program for the entire 2014-15 season.
3. Holtmann Has Led Butler to Two Consecutive NCAA Tournament Appearances
Butler rebounded from a tough first season in the Big East by winning 23 games and finishing second in the Big East, earning what was the program’s seventh NCAA tournament berth in nine seasons. Butler defeated Texas in the Round of 64 before losing an overtime thriller to Notre Dame in the Round of 32. Butler would finish the 2014-15 season ranked 24th in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Following the season Butler athletic director Barry Collier removed Holtmann’s interim tag, making him the program’s permanent head coach.
Holtmann’s Bulldogs would follow that season with 22 wins and another NCAA tournament bid in 2015-16, beating Texas Tech in their NCAA tournament opener before losing to top-seeded Virginia in the Round of 32. Under Holtman, Butler has an overall record of 58 wins and 24 defeats and a Big East record of 24-15 (13-2, 2-1 Big East this season).
4. Holtmann Won 44 Games in Three Seasons at Gardner-Webb
As noted above, Holtmann joined the Butler coaching staff after leading the Gardner-Webb program for three seasons from 2010-13. The Runnin’ Bulldogs’ win total increased in each of Holtmann’s three seasons at GWU, going from 11 in his first season to 12, and from 12 to 21 wins in 2012-13. Gardner-Webb finished second in South Division of the Big South Conference in 2013, and they earned a berth in the CollegeInsider.com tournament where they lost to Eastern Kentucky in the first round.
In three seasons at GWU, Holtmann posted a record of 44 wins and 59 defeats, with the win total at the time being tied for the most over a three-year stretch in program history (2004-07). Current head coach Tim Craft now holds the record, as he led the Running’ Bulldogs to 55 wins from 2013-16.
5. Holtmann Played Collegiately at NAIA Program Taylor University
A native of Nicholasville, Kentucky, Holtmann played four seasons at Taylor University in Indiana from 1991-94 where one of his teammates was John Groce. The two would eventually work together at Ohio University, with Groce being the head coach and Holtmann one of his assistants. In 2010 the Bobcats made their first NCAA tournament appearance in six years, blowing out No. 3 seed Georgetown in the Round of 64 before falling to Tennessee in the Round of 32.
Shortly after that tournament run Holtmann would accept the head coaching job at Gardner-Webb, where he was an assistant for five seasons from 2003 to 2008. According to his Butler bio, Holtmann and wife Lori have one daughter, Nora Jane.