Illinois Public Media News

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 29, 2012

Illinois Hires Groce As Men’s Basketball Coach

(With additional reporting from The Associated Press)

The University of Illinois has hired Ohio University's John Groce, 40, as it news head coach of the men's basketball team.

He replaces Bruce Weber, who was fired this month after a disappointing season, losing 12 of their last 14 games.

Groce said he hopes to improve the team's winning streak.

"I'm not going to pre-judge," Groce said. "I'm going to start working with them. I'm going to look forward to doing that, and then we're going to figure out the best style here in year one that fits them that gives them the best chance to be successful. I think adaptability is important."

Groce spent the past four seasons as the head coach at Ohio, where he led the Bobcats to an 85-56 overall record and a run to the Sweet 16 of this year's NCAA tournament.

At the U of I, he will earn $1.4 million per year over five years.

Ohio fans this week started an online petition to try to keep Groce, and school administrators said they were trying to raise money to increase his pay and keep him at Ohio. Groce is being paid $355,000 this year, according to the school, including bonuses.

Groce was an assistant with Thad Matta at Butler, Xavier and Ohio State before taking over at Ohio. He was reportedly targeted after Virginia Commonwealth's Shaka Smart and Butler's Brad Stevens passed up chances to take over at Illinois.

Meanwhile, the U of I on Wednesday hired University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's Matt Bollant as its new women's basketball coach.

Categories: Education, Sports

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 29, 2012

Sources:  Illinois Comes to Terms with Groce

The Chicago Tribune and CBSSports.com are reporting that Illinois has agreed to a deal with Ohio University's John Groce to replace Bruce Weber as men's basketball coach.

CBSSports.com, citing an unidentified source, reports that Groce is expected to meet with his team in Athens, Ohio, Thursday and will be introduced at a news conference in Champaign later in the week.

The Tribune, also citing an unidentified source, reports that a disagreement on terms of the contract delayed the hiring for a few days.

Groce has been at Ohio since 2008, leading the Bobcats of the Mid-American Conference to the NCAA tournament twice, including a run to the round of 16 this year that ended with an overtime loss to North Carolina.

Weber was fired after nine seasons at Illinois.

The news means the U of I could be filling vacancies on back-to-back days. Matt Bollant was announced as the new women's basketball coach Wednesday, leaving the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay after a 31 and 2 mark.

Categories: Education, Sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 28, 2012

Business Group Argues Against Healthcare Law

The National Federation of Independent Business was one of the plaintiffs arguing against the healthcare law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Kim Maisch is the Illinois director of the organization. Mishe said her group wants healthcare reform, but they don't think it's necessary to require everyone to buy health insurance.

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Categories: Government, Health, Politics


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 28, 2012

Fire Destroys West Champaign Apartment Building

Occupants of a West Champaign apartment building were safely evacuated after an early morning fire.

Champaign fire officials were called to a building at Stone Gate Village Apartments at 2403 West Springfield Avenue just before 4 a.m., after numerous reports of flames seen from the 3-story wood-framed structure.

As many as 14 fire apparatus and command cars were on the scene for several hours, applying water to smoldering areas as late as 9:30 a.m., and fire investigators remained on the scene around noon Wednesday.

Building owners will relocate all residents to other apartments. Damage is estimated at $1-million.

There's no word on the cause of the fire.

Categories: Government, Politics

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 28, 2012

Illinois Names New Women’s Basketball Coach

Illinois has named University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's Matt Bollant as its new women's basketball coach.

Illinois Athletic Director Mike Thomas announced Bollant's hiring Wednesday morning. Thomas said Bollant has a proven track record and the type of experience that will help him duplicate that success in Champaign.

Bollant said he cannot guarantee instant success, but he said the effort will eventually pay off.

"I will promise you this," Bollant said. "You're going to have a head coach that will be in the community. You'll have a head coach that works his tail off to make this great. I'm going to get up every morning and come to work. Find a job that you love, and you'll never have to work a day in your life. That's what I feel like I have. And our players are going to learn to play hard. As talented as they are, when they give as much effort as they can give, good things will happen. And everything else will take care of itself."

Under Bollant this season, Wisconsin-Green Bay finished 31-2 and made it to the second round of the NCAA tournament. The 41-year-old coach was 148-19 in five seasons at Green Bay, and four of his teams made the NCAA tournament.

Bollant said he is proud of the success he has had in Green Bay, but is honored to take the Illinois job. He will make $330,000 annually plus incentives.

His Green Bay Phoenix finished 6-0 against Big Ten schools the last two seasons. But Bollant says coaching within the conference opens up new opportunities in terms of recruitment.

"If we're the 10th-ranked team in the country, which we have been the last two years, we can go after any recruit." Bollant said. "At Green Bay, we still struggle to beat out the Big Ten. We can beat them on the basketball court, but still, because of the academics, because of the campus, and all those other things, it was a challenge."

Bollant replaces Jolette Law, who was fired at the end of the season. Law was 69-93 in five seasons with the Illini.

(Photo courtesy of The Associated Press)

Categories: Education, Sports

WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 27, 2012

UI Enrollment Management Will Continue Without Hogan

University of Illinois President Michael Hogan steps down in three months, but faculty leaders say a revised document central to his departure will have life.

University Senates Conference Chair and U of I Chicago biology professor Don Chambers says the university's individual campus Senates and president-designate Robert Easter need time to review changes to an enrollment management plan. Many faculty members sparred with Hogan over the original proposal.

But the 3-campus Senates Conference has signed off on the plan, one Chambers thinks all parties will agree to.

"I think it will come back to university administration and I think that Bob Easter - whose appointment I applaud - will embrace it, or will learn what embracing it means," Chambers said. "And I think we'll go on from there."

U of I Senates Conference Vice Chair Nick Burbules says the new report eliminates the most controversial points - including a branding idea that would have established the U of I as a single entity, and not a 3-campus system.

"A degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana is not the same thing as a degree from the University of Illinois at Springfield or Chicago," Burbules said. "Each school has its own strengths and its own missions, and we felt that the danger of an overall branding would be to erase or minimize some of those distinctions, which particularly matters, I think, to this (Urbana) campus."

Burbules says he's also happy that the plan will no longer have an executive director overseeing enrollment on all three campuses.

Chambers says it's 'sad' that it took about six months after Hogan's initial report to revise the enrollment plan.

Easter will take over as president in July, when Hogan leaves the office to become a tenured faculty member in the U of I's history department.

Categories: Education

AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 27, 2012

Indiana Lottery Watching Illinois’ Online Sales

Indiana lottery officials are keeping their eye on an Illinois effort to sell lottery tickets online.

The Hoosier Lottery hasn't started formally looking at online sales. But spokesman Al Larsen tells The Journal Gazette (http://bit.ly/GXns7K ) that they'll consider it depending on how the program in Illinois works out.

Illinois began online sales on Sunday of tickets for the multistate Mega Millions game and its state lottery. It's the first state to try an online program.

The system in Illinois sets up a direct deposit account for players with winnings of less than $600. Those who win more than that will receive email notification that they've won. Players will also be able to set up subscriptions for automatic wagers.


WILL - Illinois Public Media News - March 27, 2012

Health Care Advocacy Group: Federal Health Care Law Helping People

Claudia Lennhoff is the executive director of Champaign County Health Care Consumers.

As arguments over the constitutionality of the federal health care law continue at the Supreme Court, one local supporter of the law is pointing out its benefits. The group Champaign County Health Care Consumers said even though the law has not been fully implemented, it's already helping the people they serve. Illinois Public Media's Jim Meadows spoke with Health Care Consumers executive director Claudia Lennhoff. She had supported a single payer healthcare system, but Lennhoff said the law now in place goes a long way towards improving healthcare coverage in America.

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AP - Illinois Public Media News - March 27, 2012

Ill. Panel Asks Feds for Info on Arrested Lawmaker

A special committee of the Illinois House began investigating Representative Derrick Smith today. He was arrested two weeks ago on federal bribery charges. The hearing is one of the first steps in a long process that could lead to Smith being expelled from the House.

The committee's first meeting was mostly organizational. Its next step is asking federal prosecutors for more information on the charges against Smith. The Chicago Democrat is accused of accepting $7,000 in cash from a daycare in exchange for writing a letter supporting its grant application.

Specifically, the six representatives on the investigative panel want a copy of the letter and a list of witnesses. But even if federal prosecutors say no, legislators say they have enough to continue. State Rep. Dennis Reboletti, of Elmhurst, is the committee's ranking Republican.

"Rep. Smith has not been in session since the allegations," Reboletti said. "There are constituents who are going to be calling his office (and) may need other support, and so these are things we're going to have to take a look at. I think there's going to be things outside the four corners of that petition that we'll be able to take into evidence and consider but right now I have made no presumption either way."

A lawyer for the committee said he notified Smith of the hearing, but Smith did not show up. Attempts to reach Smith by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful. The committee expects to hear from federal prosecutors in time to meet the week of April 9.


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