According to a press release on Saturday afternoon, Illinois basketball opted to relieve head coach John Groce of his head coaching duties. Groce had just completed with his fifth year with the program.
During his five years in Champaign, Groce had compiled a 95-75 overall record and a 37-53 mark in Big Ten play. He led Illinois to 23 wins and an NCAA Tournament appearance in his first season, but continued to regress and failed to make the Big Dance in any of the following four years.
Athletic Director John Whitman talked about the change from John Groce’s leadership.
“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.”
Undoubtedly, Groce never lived up to expectations from the start. His first team had success, but it was loaded with talent. And afterward, he continued to struggle with properly utilizing his talent and avoiding off court issues.
Illinois will now begin its search for its next head coaches. BTPowerhouse put its list of five potential candidates together here. It will be interesting to see who the Illini can land in the coming weeks.