Groce out as head coach for Illinois men’s basketball


Austin Yattoni

Illinois head coach John Groce shouts instructions to his team from the sideline during the game against Iowa at State Farm Center on Wednesday, January 25. Groce was relieved of his duties by Athletic Director Josh Whitman on Saturday.

By Matt Gertsmeier, Illini hoops columnist

Illinois men’s basketball coach John Groce has been fired.

Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman announced the firing Saturday. Groce was in the midst of his fifth season as head coach for Illinois. The Illini were (18-14, 8-10) under Groce this season.

Until a replacement is found, assistant coach Jamall Walker has been elevated to the role of interim head coach.

Whitman thanked Groce for his leadership in a press release.

“Under his leadership, regrettably, we were not able to sustain the level of competitive excellence that we expect at the University of Illinois,” Whitman said in the release. “But that should do nothing to detract from the many wonderful things John has done on behalf of Illinois Basketball during his tenure. We wish John, Allison, and their three children nothing but the best, and we thank his staff and their families as well for their many contributions to our program. All will be missed.”

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    Groce, Illinois’ 17th coach in program history, had an overall record of 95-75 and 37-53 in the Big Ten. Amongst Illinois coaches, Groce had the seventh worst win percentage.

    In five years Groce never had a winning Big Ten record. Illinois’ best Big Ten regular season under Groce was seventh place.

    The Illini appeared in one NCAA Tournament with Groce during his first season as head coach. Groce, hired in late March 2012, had a roster entirely composed of Bruce Weber players and commits during the 2013 tourney appearance.

    Illinois qualified for two NIT postseason tournaments in the last five years, but its best result was advancing to the second round.

    His firing was highly anticipated this season. His win column decreased each season with the Illini. As this year progressed, boo’s rained down on Groce during his introduction.

    In terms of recruiting, Groce managed to secure a strong class of 2017 recruits. It consists of three-star guard Javon Pickett, four star guards Trent Frazier and DaMonte Williams and the No. 26 player in the class of 2017, Jeremiah Tilmon. One scholarship remains for Illinois’ class of 2017. There is no word on what will happen to Illinois’ signees with the firing of Groce.

    Before coming to Illinois Groce was the head coach for Ohio. At Ohio he went 85-56 and 34-30 in the Mid-American Conference.

    Whitman announced a that national search for the next head coach will begin immediately.

    Groce has two years remaining on his contract and will receive the balance due, which is approximately $1.7 million.

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