Illinois Fires John Groce - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Illinois Fires John Groce

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CHAMPAIGN (WREX) -

Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman announced Saturday that John Groce has been relieved of his duties as head men's basketball coach effective immediately.

Groce averaged 19 wins per year during his five seasons at Illinois, compiling a 95-75 record overall and 37-53 in Big Ten play. He led the Fighting Illini to 23 wins and an NCAA Tournament Round of 32 appearance in his inaugural season in 2013, followed by consecutive NIT bids in 2014 and 2015. He is 180-131 in nine seasons as a head coach, following an 85-56 record in four years at Ohio.

"I want to thank John Groce and his staff for their tireless efforts over these past five years," Whitman said. "In many ways, John is a model leader. He exudes optimism and tackles every day with unbelievable energy. He has the highest integrity. He has been an active presence in our community and a strong public ambassador for Illinois Basketball. Most importantly, he loves his players unconditionally and helps them develop into young men prepared for the next stages of their lives. Our student-athletes are having a positive experience, achieving record heights in the classroom, and leaving campus as proud graduates with bright futures.

"Under his leadership, regrettably, we were not able to sustain the level of competitive excellence that we expect at the University of Illinois," Whitman continued. "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."

A national search for the next head coach begins immediately. Assistant coach Jamall Walker was elevated to the role of interim head coach.  

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