Groce Receives Contract Extension
July 24, 2014
The University of Illinois Board of Trustees approved a one-year contract extension and raise for Fighting Illini Head Basketball Coach John Groce on Thursday. The move will keep Groce on the Illini sidelines through the conclusion of the 2018-19 season. He also receives a $100,000 raise, improving his annual compensation to $1.7 million.
"John Groce has done an excellent job in his first two years as Illinois basketball coach, so we are pleased to extend his contract and continue our commitment to him and this program in its pursuit of championships." Director of Athletics Mike Thomas said. "He has been tremendous in every facet of the job, from coaching and mentoring our players to recruiting, supporting the academic mission of our university, assisting in the State Farm Center renovation project, being involved in the community and engaging with our outstanding fans. The future is bright for Fighting Illini basketball under Coach Groce's leadership."
Groce has led the Illini to consecutive 20-win seasons and postseason appearances in his first two years in Champaign, owning a combined record of 43-28.
He guided one the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the nation last season to 20 wins and a No. 2 seed in the NIT, as the Illini narrowly missed a trip to the NCAA Tournament. Returning just three rotation players, Groce emphasized defense to his young squad and it delivered, finishing the season ranked 11th nationally in defensive efficiency. The Illini played some of their best basketball late in the season, a staple of Groce's teams throughout his coaching career. Illinois won four of its last five regular season games, with three of those victories coming on the road at Minnesota, at No. 18 Michigan State and at No. 24 Iowa. The Illini added wins over Indiana in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament and at Boston U. in the first round of the NIT to finish the season with six victories over its final nine contests, with both postseason losses coming by just one point apiece.
Groce directed the Illini to a number of achievements during his first year, a 23-win season that culminated in an NCAA Tournament appearance and subsequent victory to advance to the Round of 32. The Illini won the school's first-ever EA SPORTS Maui Invitational title, recorded one of the most impressive wins in non-conference play with a double-digit victory at No. 10 Gonzaga, and spent eight weeks ranked in the Top 25, reaching as high as No. 10 in the polls. Illinois recorded two more top-10 wins during conference play, beginning with a 19-point defeat of No. 8 Ohio State. Illinois then garnered national headlines with a thrilling last-second victory over No. 1 Indiana. The Illini won on a buzzer-beating layup by Tyler Griffey, leading to a court-storming celebration in Champaign as Illinois defeated a No. 1-ranked opponent for just the third time in school history. The Fighting Illini went on to earn a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament and defeated No. 10-seeded Colorado in the Round of 64 as Groce improved his record in the opening round of the tournament to 9-0 during his coaching career and 3-0 as a head coach.
"We remain excited about the future of Illinois basketball," Groce said. "So much of the credit goes to the young men in our program who believe in our vision and are working to achieve the high standards we set in all areas both on the court and in the classroom. But I always say `It takes a village' and I truly believe that. It takes everyone involved to accomplish our goals and we have incredible support here at the University of Illinois, led by President Bob Easter, Chancellor Phyllis Wise and Director of Athletics Mike Thomas. Their leadership is integral in our daily pursuit of building a program that will compete at the highest level."