Butler Coach Chris Holtmann Weighs In on Tom Crean, John Groce Firings

Butler coach Chris Holtmann shared his thoughts on Tom Crean’s dismissal from Indiana after the Bulldogs beat Winthrop in their first-round NCAA Tournament game.

MILWAUKEE — Chris Holtmann didn’t find out about Indiana dismissing Tom Crean until after his Butler team defeated Winthrop in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

And he wasn’t happy to hear the news. He paused before sharing his thoughts, while also weighing on another dismissal in the Big Ten earlier this week.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Tom, and I’ve got a lot of respect for how his team plays,” Holtmann said. “I (also) had a close friend lose a job not too long ago at Illinois.

“We all get into this knowing the deal. Do I disagree with those decisions? Absolutely. Absolutely I do. Am I biased? Do I disagree with the decision at Illinois? Absolutely. They don’t care, but I know hard that guy works and how committed he was to his players and that he was really close to turning a corner.

“Everyone wants to be (in the NCAA Tournament). And when you’re not here, people get upset.”

Holtmann also was referring the Fighting Illini firing John Groce on Saturday. Many people interested in the Illinois coaching search have a wish list including Holtmann, who led Butler to a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament and a victory over Winthrop in the first round Thursday.

There also will be speculation about Indiana pursuing Holtmann after Butler finishes its NCAA Tournament run. The Hoosiers fired Crean shortly before the Tournament tipped off Thursday.

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