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The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

DePaul introduces Chris Holtmann as next men’s basketball head coach

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Ryan Hinske
DePaul head coach Chris Holtmann, left, gives his introductory press conference Monday, March 18, 2024, at Wintrust Arena. Holtmann’s plans for the team’s future was the main topic of discussion.

Chris Holtmann was officially introduced as the 16th head coach in DePaul men’s basketball history Monday, March 18, marking the beginning of a new chapter for the program. 

Holtmann joined vice president and athletic director DeWayne Peevy onstage, presenting their shared vision for the program while fully acknowledging the uphill battle ahead. 

“I always felt like it could be a program that could have real sustained success,” Holtmann said. “I know there are some challenges, but I think it’s in a place right now, given their commitments to a practice facility, what they have done with this place and I think the passion and the hunger right now makes it the right time for our family to be here.”

Following his firing from Ohio State in February due to the program’s perceived need for a change in leadership, Holtmann considered taking a yearlong hiatus and briefly entertained the idea of working in media. However, he ultimately concluded that the chance to revitalize a program with a storied past such as DePaul was too good to pass up.

“We’ve got a great opportunity,” Holtmann said. “We came here as a family because we really do believe in what this place can be. We really do, and I think we have incredible leadership. I’m excited about the practice facility in the coming years and the league (Big East) is really attractive.”

For this hire to happen, the program needed additional financial resources and increased name, image and likeness (NIL) from the university and board of trustees. Peevy successfully secured the necessary resources from the university and board of trustees, leading to Holtmann’s agreement to a six-year contract that will see him staying in Chicago through the 2029-30 season.

“I’m thrilled to welcome Chris to the DePaul community,” DePaul President Robert Manuel said. “Chris has been successful in the Big East and created a national presence for his teams. His accomplishments will enhance our reputation as a nationally recognized academic institution, promoting world-class educational opportunities for all our students.”

Peevy parted ways with Tony Stubblefield Jan. 22, when the team held a 3-15 record, opting for a mid-season heading coaching change to expedite the hiring process. The process was thorough according to Peevy as he narrowed the coaching search down to five finalists. Holtmann’s extensive resume and track record of success at various programs ultimately set him apart as the top candidate.

While many athletic directors may experience pressure to make the perfect hire, Peevy’s mindset and perspective never reached that level. He remained focused on moving forward and learning from past mistakes.

“I don’t feel any pressure any more than what I put on myself and the opportunity to build a program,” Peevy said. “I came here from Kentucky to win. You take the steps forward, you learn lessons and you push forward. I think if you want to be a true leader, you have to get people around you that can help you accomplish something big.”

Holtmann is confronted with a significant challenge, as the program has not appeared in the NCAA Tournament since 2004 and is coming off a tough 3-29 season, its worst finish since the 1996-97 season. The team was also the first-ever Big East team to go 0-20 during conference play. 

With 13 years of experience as a head coach, Holtmann has compiled a record of 251-170 and secured eight postseason berths. His track record speaks volumes, highlighted by a notable stretch of nine consecutive 20-win seasons and eight consecutive NCAA tournament appearances, including five, most recently at Ohio State.

“Chris’s track record as a head coach of high-level programs, demonstrated commitment to excellence on and off the court, and NCAA postseason experience made him the perfect hire for DePaul,” Peevy said. “Chris unmistakably shares our values and our vision for DePaul men’s basketball, recognizes our commitment to the resources required to compete at a high level, and is eager to return our program to national prominence.”

Having previously navigated the Big East, Holtmann is well-acquainted with the challenges ahead. Before joining Ohio State, he served as the head coach at Butler for three seasons (2014-2017), leading the Bulldogs to the NCAA Tournament in each of his first three seasons. 

“I think the challenge of the Big East of the quality of coaching and the quality of programs was attractive for me,” Holtmann said of the progression of the Big East since he last coached in the league. “I think it’s a great league and if you have a team that can compete in this league, you can compete nationally.”

Holtmann acknowledges that the program’s development will take time, yet he sees a tremendous opportunity for recruitment and attracting players from the transfer portal.

“We’ve got to share with them our vision,” Holtmann said of his message to fans and potential recruits. “We’ve got to show all of the young men both via high school and the transfer portal our paths to helping them become the best versions of themselves and reach and achieve their potential. It’s also about finding the right group that wants to be here and the group that wants to be apart, lock arms and rebuild this thing.”

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