Ohio State coach Thad Matta upset he needed AD’s vote of confidence

Ohio State coach Thad Matta reacts to a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Minnesota in Columbus, Ohio, Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Paul Vernon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ohio State coach Thad Matta was not particularly pleased by speculation about his future that prompted the school’s athletic director to proclaim his support.

Hours after AD Gene Smith issued a statement Wednesday affirming Matta’s job security — and minutes after the Buckeyes were eliminated in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament — the most successful men’s basketball coach in OSU history was asked about that vote of confidence.

“I think it’s ridiculous that we have to do stuff like that. Gene and I met a couple weeks ago. It’s amazing what people do nowadays. This is a very fickle business that we’re in,” Matta said in Washington, where Ohio State lost to Rutgers 66-57. “Unless you’re intimately involved on a day-to-day basis, people choose the negative side of things. It’s what they do.”

Matta wasn’t done.

“Obviously, gas is poured on the fire,” he said. “It’s sad that sports has come to where you got to do stuff like that.”

In his statement, Smith said: “While we are not currently where we aspire to be with our performance on the court, Thad understands better than anyone that component has to improve. I am confident in his leadership to return the program to the winning ways that we have all enjoyed during his 13-year tenure.”

The loss to Rutgers, the lowest-seeded team in the conference tournament, left Ohio State at 17-15 and out of the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season.

Asked after the game about the statement from Smith, sophomore guard JaQuan Lyle thought the whole topic of conversation was silly.

“I feel like it’s ignorant. I don’t think nobody pays attention to any of that,” Lyle said. “We thought Coach Matta’s going to be here next year (throughout this) year.”

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