Men's Basketball
Groce Named Illinois Basketball Coach

New Illinois men's basketball coach John Groce. (photo by Mark Jones)
New Illinois men's basketball coach John Groce. (photo by Mark Jones)

March 29, 2012

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CHAMPAIGN, ILL.- University of Illinois Director of Athletics Mike Thomas announced Thursday that John Groce has been named the 17th Fighting Illini men's basketball coach.

"I am extremely pleased to introduce John Groce as our men's basketball coach," Thomas said. "It became very clear during the process that John is a terrific fit at the University of Illinois. He has won at a high level wherever he has coached and he has some great mentors. His Ohio team made a great run to the Sweet 16 during the current NCAA Tournament, taking a No. 1 seed into overtime in their final game last Friday. John has recruited and coached at the highest level, and I have no doubt he will be an outstanding leader for the young men in our basketball program."

Groce (pronounced Gross) comes to Illinois after four seasons as head coach at Ohio University, where he led the Bobcats to an 85-56 overall record as well as Mid-American Conference Tournament titles and NCAA Tournament appearances in 2010 and 2012.

Ohio was the story of the year's Tournament, advancing to the Sweet 16 as a No. 13 seed with victories over No. 4 seed Michigan followed by No. 12 seed South Florida. The Bobcats finished just short of the Elite Eight, falling to top-seed North Carolina in overtime in the regional semifinal. This year marked just the second time in Ohio's school history and first since 1964 that the Bobcats won multiple games in the NCAA Tournament. Ohio finished the 2012 season with a school-record 29 wins and was known for its pressure defense, ranking second nationally in turnover percentage and third in steals percentage.

Groce has recorded a total of three wins during his last two NCAA appearances, as Ohio also made noise in the 2010 Tournament. Playing in the school's first NCAA Tournament game in five seasons, the Bobcats received a No. 14 seed and defeated No. 3 seed Georgetown. With the 2010 and 2012 NCAA performances, Ohio became just the sixth school ever to win Tournament games as both a 13 and 14 seed.

"I am thrilled to be the basketball coach here and feel like this is a once in a lifetime opportunity for our family," Groce said. "The Midwest background and values we share makes the University of Illinois a perfect for us and we're looking forward to making an impact on the basketball court as well as in the Champaign-Urbana community."

The 40-year-old Groce has a total of 19 years in the coaching profession and has been part of teams that have made 16 postseason appearances. His record in 15 years as an assistant was an impressive 349-156, giving him a combined record of 434-212 over his 19 years.

Groce earned his first head coaching job at Ohio following four seasons on Thad Matta's staff at Ohio State from 2005-08, the first two as assistant coach and last two as associate head coach. During Groce's time in Columbus the Buckeyes amassed a record of 105-35, advanced to the NCAA Championship game in 2007 and second round in 2006, claimed back-to-back outright Big Ten Championships in 2006 and 2007 and won the NIT in 2008. Groce played a key role in recruiting many of the top players at Ohio State and was named's 2006 National Recruiter of the Year.

In all, Groce spent eight years as an assistant under Matta. Prior to his time at Ohio State, Groce served three years on Matta's staff at Xavier from 2002-04 and one season at Butler in 2000-01. The Musketeers went 78-23 and made three straight NCAA appearances, advancing to the second round in 2002 and 2003 and the Elite Eight in 2004. Xavier also won consecutive Atlantic 10 titles in 2002 and 2003. Butler, meanwhile, went 24-8 and won a conference crown in 2001 while also advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

Groce entered the Division I coaching ranks as a member of Herb Sendek's staff at North Carolina State from 1997-2000. The Wolfpack went 73-58 overall and advanced to the NIT in each of the four seasons Groce was in Raleigh, including a trip to the semifinals in 2000.

Groce got his start in coaching as an assistant at his alma mater, Taylor University, an NAIA school in Upland, Ind. Groce spent three years on Paul Patterson's staff from 1994-96, helping lead the Titans to a 69-32 record and pair of trips to the NAIA national tournament. Groce played for Patterson for three years from 1991-93 before transitioning to a student assistant role as a senior. Taylor compiled a 90-16 record and made three trips to the NAIA Tournament during Groce's playing career, including a 1991 NAIA Final Four appearance during his freshman season.

Groce earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Taylor in 1994. John and his wife, Allison, have two sons, Conner and Camden.


Born: Sept. 7, 1971, in Muncie, Ind.
Hometown: Danville, Ind.
Family: Wife, Allison; Sons, Conner and Camden
Education: Taylor University, B.S., Mathematics, 1994

Previous Coaching Experience

 Years School Position
 2012- University of Illinois Head Coach
 2009-12 Ohio University Head Coach
 2007-08 Ohio State University Associate Head Coach
 2005-06 Ohio State University Assistant Coach
 2002-04 Xavier University Assistant Coach
 2001 Butler University Assistant Coach
 1997-2000 North Carolina State University Assistant Coach
 1994-96 Taylor University Assistant Coach

Year-By-Year Coaching Record

 Year School Position Overall / Conf. (Finish) Postseason
 1993-94 Taylor Assistant Coach 29-5 / -- NAIA 2nd Round
 1994-95 Taylor Assistant Coach 17-14 / 8-6
 1995-96 Taylor Assistant Coach 23-13 / 10-4 NAIA 1st Round
 1996-97 North Carolina State Assistant Coach 17-15 / 4-12 (8th) NIT 2nd Round
 1997-98 North Carolina State Assistant Coach 17-15 / 5-11 (8th) NIT 2nd Round
 1998-99 North Carolina State Assistant Coach 19-14 / 6-10 (5th) NIT 2nd Round
 1999-2000 North Carolina State Assistant Coach 20-14 / 6-10 (6th) NIT Semifinal
 2000-01 Butler Assistant Coach 24-8 / 11-3 (1st) NCAA 2nd Round
 2001-02 Xavier Assistant Coach 26-6 / 14-2 (1st) NCAA 2nd Round
 2002-03 Xavier Assistant Coach 26-6 / 15-1 (1st) NCAA 2nd Round
 2003-04 Xavier Assistant Coach 26-11 / 10-6 (3rd) NCAA Elite Eight
 2004-05 Ohio State Assistant Coach 20-12 / 8-8 (6th)
 2005-06 Ohio State Assistant Coach 26-6 / 12-4 (1st) NCAA 2nd Round
 2006-07 Ohio State Associate Head Coach 35-4 / 15-1 (1st) NCAA Runner-up
 2007-08 Ohio State Associate Head Coach 24-13 / 10-8 (5th) NIT Champions
 2008-09 Ohio Head Coach 15-17 / 7-9 (9th)
 2009-10 Ohio Head Coach 22-15 / 7-9 (9th) NCAA 2nd Round
 2010-11 Ohio Head Coach 19-16 / 9-7 (5th) CIT Quarterfinal
 2011-12 Ohio Head Coach 29-8 / 11-5 (3rd) NCAA Sweet 16

 Cumulative Coaching Record
 Assistant Coach (15 seasons) 349-156 (.691)
 Head Coach (4 seasons) 85-56 (.603)
 Total (19 seasons) 434-212 (.672)