Ohio State Promotes Jake Diebler to Head Coach

By Dan Hope on March 17, 2024 at 1:17 pm
Jake Diebler
Matt Krohn – USA TODAY Sports

Jake Diebler is officially Ohio State’s new head coach.

Ohio State announced Sunday that it had removed the interim tag from Diebler, giving him a five-year contract to lead the Buckeyes as the program’s new head coach.

“Jake Diebler possesses all of the characteristics we were seeking as we conducted a very comprehensive and thorough search for a new head coach,” incoming athletic director Ross Bjork said in a statement. “Those include coaching ability, passion, energy, program knowledge, character, integrity and ties to Ohio. As an Ohio native, the son of a longtime Ohio high school coach and with deep connections to Ohio State, Jake knows what it takes to lead this program on a championship course.

“I’d like to thank Dan Cloran, our executive associate athletic director who oversees the men’s basketball program, for his efforts throughout our search.”

Ohio State will officially introduce Diebler as its new head coach in a press conference at 1 p.m. Monday at the Schottenstein Center.

Diebler’s promotion comes after he won six of his eight games as interim coach. In the process, Diebler propelled the Buckeyes back into the conversation for a berth in the NCAA Tournament, a prospect that seemed almost unthinkable when Chris Holtmann was fired on Feb. 14.

In Diebler’s first game as Ohio State’s interim coach, the Buckeyes upset Purdue – the No. 2 team in the country at the time – in a 73-69 win at Value City Arena. After suffering an 88-79 road loss to Minnesota in his second game as interim coach, Diebler and his Buckeyes rolled off five straight victories between the end of the regular season and their first game of the Big Ten Tournament.

“Our Buckeyes have rallied and shown true grit on the court with Coach Diebler, who has exhibited impressive leadership with the team,” Ohio State president Walter “Ted” Carter Jr. said in a statement. “In addition to his multiple wins since being named interim head coach, he’s been an inspiration to the players. I’ve gotten to know Jake and I’m confident he will continue to lead the team admirably.”

Calls from Ohio State fans, boosters and former players for Diebler to get the head coaching job grew with every victory. Even though Ohio State likely won’t make this year’s NCAA Tournament after winning only one game in the Big Ten Tournament, the Buckeyes’ late-season turnaround was enough for Bjork, currently serving as a senior advisor to outgoing athletic director Gene Smith, to commit to Diebler as the new leader of the program.

“Throughout the search, every time we analyzed what was best for the program, our decision kept leading right back to Jake,” Bjork said. “The way he has led the program since February 14 has been exemplary and is only the beginning of what lies ahead for Buckeye Basketball. The future is exciting, and I cannot wait to watch him lead this program.”

Diebler, who has been an assistant coach for Ohio State since 2019, becomes a full-time head coach for the first time in his career.

“It’s a blessing and a privilege to serve this program and I’m excited for this opportunity,” Diebler said in Ohio State’s news release. “I’d like to thank Ross Bjork and President Carter for believing in me and the vision that I have moving forward. Ohio State basketball is special and means so much to me and my family. I look forward to serving the entire Ohio State basketball family as best as I possibly can.”

A former player at Valparaiso, Diebler started his coaching career at his alma mater in 2010. He spent four years on staff with the Beacons before becoming the video coordinator at Ohio State in 2013. He spent three years with the Buckeyes in that role before becoming an assistant coach at Vanderbilt, where he spent three years before returning to OSU to join Holtmann’s staff.

A native of Gibsonburg, Ohio, Diebler is the older brother of former Ohio State sharpshooter Jon Diebler. Jake Diebler is 37 years old, the same age as Thad Matta entering his first season as OSU’s head coach in 2004.

Diebler is Ohio State’s first head coach from the state of Ohio since Randy Ayers, who coached the Buckeyes from 1989-97.

Ohio State also considered several more experienced coaches during the search process. Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May was believed to be the leading candidate for the job entering the week, while Xavier coach Sean Miller was viewed as a frontrunner earlier in the search. Ohio State alumnus Chris Jent, an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Lakers, had support as a candidate among boosters and former players. Alabama coach Nate Oats, Creighton coach Greg McDermott and South Carolina coach Lamont Paris were also linked to the job before signing contract extensions with their current schools.

In the end, though, the Buckeyes hired Diebler based on the turnaround he orchestrated for this year’s Buckeyes, who had won just two of their previous 11 games before he took over.

“Jake Diebler possesses all of the characteristics we were seeking as we conducted a very comprehensive and thorough search for a new head coach.”– Ross Bjork on Jake Diebler

While Ohio State is not expected to make the NCAA Tournament, the Buckeyes’ season is expected to continue in the NIT. The NIT bracket will be announced at 9:30 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2. 

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