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January 21, 2013

Matta receives new contract from Ohio State

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With five Big Ten championships and two Final Four appearances to his credit, it'd be hard to argue that Thad Matta hasn't built a top-10 program in his nine seasons at Ohio State. And as a result, he'll continue to be compensated as one of college basketball's premiere coaches.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith announced on Monday that Matta had agreed to a revised contract, which will bump his annual salary from $2.9 million to $3.2 million. Matta's new contract will not be official until it is approved at a board of trustees meeting, which is scheduled to take place next week.

"I think we all know that Thad's done a marvelous job since he's been our coach here at our basketball program," Smith said while meeting with reporters on Monday. "You think about the fact that 17 of our 22 players who have exhausted their eligibility here have gotten their degrees and moved on in life. He's just created a great culture for our program academically. Competitively, we know he's been highly successful."

No additional years were added to the Buckeyes' coach's new contract. Earning an additional year for each Big Ten championship, Matta's contract is not set to expire at Ohio State until July 2019.

Smith said that he initiated talks of a raise with Matta a year ago, in a proactive effort to keep him among the top 10 highest compensated coaches in the ever-changing landscape of college basketball. The 45-year-old Matta, however, said that he's more pleased with the efforts that led to his pay increase than the actual raise itself.

"One of the things that I'm most proud of is what we built here from where we started," Matta said. "We were at ground zero nine years ago, in terms of the uncertainty of the future of our program. We've been very, very fortunate with the teams that we've had and the job that the coaches have done to build this program."

A bump in salary wasn't the only additional language added to Matta's deal. The Ohio State coach will now have more stringent responsibilities in terms of compliance, including a requirement to report potential NCAA violations and an agreement to repay any potential bonuses earned from vacated accomplishments.

Smith said that the emphasis on promoting an atmosphere of compliance came as a result of lessons learned over the past few years and an NCAA scandal that led to the resignation of former football coach Jim Tressel. That's just fine with Matta, who said that his new guidelines won't change the way that he runs his program.

"All of the things that are in there are things that I live by in terms of my responsibility to this university," Matta said. "The way they should be is the way I view it. I look at that and say, 'Hey, that's how I want to operate,' if that makes sense. I like having those in there."

Other details of Matta's new deal include an academic bonus for team performance, a car stipend to replaced Ohio State's now defunct Athletics Car Dealer program, and an increase in private jet usage for recruiting purposes from 15 hours to 20 hours a year.

Now in his ninth season as the Buckeyes' head coach, Matta has put together quite the resume in Columbus, earning five Big Ten regular season titles, three conference tournament championships, six trips to the NCAA Tournament, three consecutive runs to the Sweet 16, two trips to the Final Four, one NCAA title game appearance, and one National Invitation Tournament championship. The OSU coach has also raised his team's Academic Progress Ranking score from 911 to 972, and has seen 17 players graduate from school, with four others earning professional basketball contracts following their college careers.

Both Ohio State and Matta are hoping that similar success can be sustained over the remainder of his contact. And while 2019 might be six years away, the Hoopeston, Ill. native said that with the way the college game is evolving, it doesn't feel so far in the distant future.

"With how recruiting has changed, you're legitimately thinking big picture in terms of trying to build your program and sustain the program," Matta said. "As crazy as it sounds, it's not that far off."



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