ATHENS — Two days after firing Mark Fox, Georgia had former Ohio State coach Thad Matta on campus, showing him its facilities and discussing a possible deal.
Every indication so far is that Matta, who parted ways with Ohio State last year, is Georgia’s top target to replace Fox. And UGA did not waste any time in setting up a meeting.
Matta was spotted Monday night at the Athens airport by the Athens Banner-Herald as he was boarding a plane home to Indianapolis. Earlier in the day, Matta toured UGA’s facilities, and was seen at Stegeman Coliseum, according to two people familiar with the search.
UGA and Matta have discussed parameters of a potential deal, one person familiar with the search also said.
It doesn’t appear that Georgia has interviewed anyone else, and it’s not clear if any interviews are set up yet. UGA representatives contacted Tom Crean, the former Indiana and Marquette head coach, but it hasn’t gone further than that yet.
Matta also was reportedly at Ole Miss on March 1, but no deal has materialized and Matta’s name has not been mentioned much lately in that school’s search. Andy Kennedy stepped down as Ole Miss coach in February.
There are also openings at Louisville and Pittsburgh, where Matta could be a candidate based on his background in the Midwest. Prior to Ohio State, where Matta worked for 11 years, he was also the head coach at Xavier (2001-04) and Butler (2000-01).
Matta has never coached in the SEC or the Southeast, but he does have a connection: His brother Greg is the coach at North Cobb Christian School, a private school in Kennesaw that produced former Georgia guard Dustin Ware. Greg Matta was also an assistant coach at Kennesaw State.
Thad Matta guided Ohio State to two Final Fours and nine Big Ten titles. Ohio State slipped near the end of his tenure, missing the NCAA Tournament in his final two seasons and failing to reach the Sweet 16 the two seasons before that. However, he finished his tenure at Ohio State with an overall winning percentage of .733.