PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 21: Head coach Thad Matta of the Ohio State Buckeyes looks on in the first half against the Arizona Wildcats during the third round of the 2015 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Moda Center on March 21, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Thad Matta’s Ohio State basketball tenure ends with emotional press conference

Ohio State announced Monday afternoon the tenure of men’s basketball coach Thad Matta is over after 13 years.

“While this may be a surprise to many, I think it’s the right thing for our program at this time,” director of athletics Gene Smith said.

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Smith came to that conclusion during a conversation between the two men Friday.

Asked what changed since the end of a regular season in which the Buckeyes went 17-15, Smith said, “We weren’t winning recruiting battles I thought we might have a chance to win, as he did.”

PHOTOS: Thad Matta through the years at Ohio State

An emotional Matta appeared with Smith at a press conference Monday in Columbus and said he agreed with the decision.

“I want what’s best for the program and if it’s not me being here, I respect it,” Matta said.

Smith said the final three years of Matta’s contract will be honored.

According to the I-Team Payroll Project, Matta was paid $3,386,880 last year, making him the school’s second highest-paid employee behind football coach Urban Meyer ($4,612,510).

Matta is Ohio State’s all-time winningest coach, but the program has been in decline over the past few seasons, including a two-year NCAA tournament drought.

He has taken the Buckeyes to two Final Fours and won five Big Ten regular season championships.

Matta received a vote of confidence from Smith in March before the Buckeyes lost their season finale to Rutgers in the Big Ten tournament.

Smith said a national search will be conducted to find Matta’s replacement.

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