GWU’s Holtmann resigns

Jul. 16, 2013 @ 04:53 AM

After three years at Gardner-Webb University, head men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann is moving on.

Holtmann, who guided the Runnin’ Bulldogs to a 21-win season last year and a berth in the postseason tournament (CIT) stepped down Monday morning to take a position as assistant coach at Butler University.

He will work under first-year head coach Brandon Miller — who took over after longtime head coach Brad Stevens accepted the head coaching job with the Boston Celtics.

“We talked on Thursday and it was on Friday the job was offered,” Holtmann said Monday. “I wanted to take 24 to 48 hours to think about it and pray about it.”

Holtmann said he has known Miller for nearly a decade and the opportunity was not surprising as he said he has been offered other positions in the college ranks during the off-season.

“I don’t think it surprised me but you never know what head coaches are looking for,” Holtmann said. “It is about fit and it is the same thing here at Gardner-Webb.”

Last season was a record-setting season for the Runnin’ Bulldogs who set a Division I school record with 21 wins — including winning 10 of their last 11 to finish outside of first in the Big South. The season ended with a first-round CIT loss to Eastern Kentucky.

“It (strong finish) certainly helps,” Holtmann said. “Usually in these situations, it creates a spotlight on the head coach and you can forget that you have a great staff and terrific players.”

Holtmann informed GWU Athletic Director Chuck Burch on Sunday and met with players Monday morning to inform them of his decision to go to Butler — which is entering its first year in the Big East this season.

“We are grateful for the resurgence Chris created here at Gardner-Webb,” Burch said in a statement. “He will be sorely missed, both on and off the court.”

Holtmann was named the 2013 Big South Conference Coach of the Year as well as the NABC District 3 Coach of the Year. He came to Gardner-Webb after two seasons as an assistant to John Groce at Ohio University. Prior to that, he was an assistant at Gardner-Webb, helping the Runnin’ Bulldogs to an Atlantic Sun Conference regular-season title in the 2004-05 season.

“I think the future at Gardner-Webb is very good and I think we will be picked second in the conference,” Holtmann said. “It’s a great job for someone to take because they will be competitive.”

And Holtmann won’t be wasting any time as he heads to Indianapolis today to start recruiting for Butler.

“You go with your gut and the opportunities this will provide will be a lot,” Holtmann said. “You just have to do your best each day and see what goes from there.”

Gardner-Webb officials said a search for Holtmann’s replacement will begin immediately.