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.