A Butler program that has endured two coaching changes and two conference changes the past three years finally has the stability it craves.
The school attained that Friday by committing to coach Chris Holtmann for years to come.
Holtmann became Butler's interim coach on the eve of the first day of fall practice in October after head coach Brandon Miller was granted a leave of absence due to medical reasons. Butler officially named Holtmann its 23rd head coach on Friday when it announced that Miller will not be returning to the program once his medical leave is over.
"This is a special place and a program rich in tradition," Holtmann said in a statement. "We look forward to working extremely hard to make the Butler community proud in the coming years. We are grateful to Brandon for his leadership and he will always be an important part of Butler Basketball. He and his family remain in our program's thoughts and prayers."
The decision to shed Holtmann's interim label is not a surprise considering Miller's lack of involvement with the program the past few months and Butler's early-season success. The Bulldogs have bounced back from a rare down season in their Big East debut last year with a 10-4 start that includes victories over North Carolina, Georgetown and Northwestern.
Butler athletic director Barry Collier initially chose Holtmann to replace Miller on an interim basis because he had head coaching experience from a three-year stint at Gardner-Webb.
Holtmann transformed Gardner-Webb from a laughingstock into a winning from 2010-2013, but he didn't view the Big South school as a destination job. He accepted Miller's offer to serve as an assistant at Butler because he viewed helping the tradition-rich Bulldogs make a successful transition to the Big East as a better springboard than trying to parlay sustained success at Gardner-Webb into an attention-grabbing NCAA tournament run.
"Hardest professional decision of my life, and it's not even close," Holtmann told Yahoo Sports in October. "What made it difficult to leave Gardner-Webb was the people I worked around, the people I worked for and certainly our players. But Butler is Butler. It's a program on a national stage. Ultimately, I just felt like Butler was an opportunity that would give me a chance to be a head coach again, and that's why I took it."
Now Holtmann has what he wanted, albeit not under ideal circumstances.
He is the head coach of a high-profile program counting on him to prove that last season's struggles were a fluke and not a sign of what's ahead in the Big East.
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