As transfer portal opens for them, Ohio State's players staying put for now

A new era of collegiate athletics has presented Ohio State's players with a choice.

When athletic director Gene Smith fired men's basketball coach Chris Holtmann on Wednesday morning, it triggered a special transfer portal window for all 15 members of the team. As of Thursday morning, all Buckeyes opened a 30-day window where they could enter the portal and begin sorting out their next moves.

For now, at least, none are doing so. The Dispatch has confirmed that with six games left in the regular season, the entire roster was present for Thursday afternoon's practice, the first with interim coach Jake Diebler in charge.

In essence, the Buckeyes could get a jump start on finding a new school if they wanted to do so. They wouldn’t be able to play immediately as deadlines for enrollment and dropping classes have passed, but they could get the process started early. The portal window for all players officially opens March 18, one day after Selection Sunday, and remains open for 45 days.

Thursday's practice marked something close to normalcy after a turbulent 24 hours.

It was sometime in the early hours of Wednesday that Ohio State’s chartered flight touched down in Columbus. The Buckeyes were returning from Madison, where the Buckeyes had taken an eight-point loss against No. 20 Wisconsin, adding to OSU's ongoing list of road defeats. A home date with No. 2 Purdue was up next.

Originally, the focus of Thursday's practice figured to be getting more work for rising sophomore Bowen Hardman, whose role has incrementally grown in the last three weeks; finding ways for the team to get more consistent offense; and certainly, grappling with how to stop reigning national player of the year Zach Edey in three days.

Until the program endured a seismic shift. Barely 12 hours from the final whistle inside the Kohl Center, Holtmann was fired by Smith with six games remaining in his seventh season. In response, Diebler, the team’s primary recruiter, was elevated to the lead job in place of Holtmann for the remainder of the year.

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The decision to move on from Holtmann was an emotional one for multiple players, sources have told The Dispatch, one that was unpopular and unexpected within the locker room.

The change in leadership could create new opportunities for players stuck at the end of the bench, allowing them to perhaps make a case for a bigger role going forward whether it’s at Ohio State or not. But following the players' meeting with Smith on Wednesday afternoon, the Buckeyes are generally taking a wait-and-see approach regarding the coaching search.

Once it opens, the transfer portal will be open for 45 days. Ohio State’s players will be able to enter the portal for 75 days, with a three-day break between when their 30-day period ends and the 45-day period begins.


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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio State's players staying put as transfer portal opens for them