The extension, which is pending approval by the university board of
trustees, will keep Groce on the Illini sidelines through the
conclusion of the 2017-18 season. He also will receive a $200,000
raise, improving his annual compensation to $1.6 million.
"We are pleased to extend John Groce's contract by a year and
reward him for an outstanding job in his first season at Illinois,"
Thomas said. "The arrow is definitely pointing up for Fighting
Illini basketball, and this helps solidify the commitment by both
the university and John to continue moving the program to a
Groce directed the Illini to a number of achievements during his
first year in Champaign, a 23-win season that culminated in an NCAA
tournament appearance and subsequent victory to advance to the Round
Illinois won its first 12 games in 2012-13, equaling the
sixth-best start in school history and matching the best start ever
for a first-year UI coach. Included in that stretch was a dominating
performance in Hawaii as the Illini captured the school's first-ever
EA Sports Maui Invitational championship. Illinois also recorded
arguably the most impressive win of college basketball's
pre-conference season, winning at No. 10 Gonzaga by double figures.
The Illini 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 in one of the most competitive Big Ten
seasons in league history. Illinois defeated No. 8 Ohio State on
Jan. 5 by 19 points, its largest margin of victory over a top 10
opponent since 1964. Then on Feb. 7, Illinois 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 at the Assembly Hall as Illinois
defeated a No. 1-ranked opponent for just the third time in school
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The Fighting Illini earned 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. Groce now stands as one of just 14 coaches to win NCAA
tournament games in each of the last two years, and one of 17
coaches to record NCAA tournament victories in at least three of
the last four years.
"This was one of the most gratifying seasons of my career because
of how much I enjoyed coaching this group of players," Groce said.
"They bought in from day one, had great attitudes and gave
tremendous effort, which allowed us to have success."
"We are very excited about the direction Illinois basketball is
moving. Our staff and players will continue to work tirelessly to
reach the championship-level standards we have set for our program
on the court, off the court and in the classroom," Groce added.
"When you combine the world-class academic reputation of the
University of Illinois with the outstanding support of President Bob
Easter, Chancellor Phyllis Wise, Director of Athletics Mike Thomas,
the DIA and our other campus administration, we feel like we have
all the pieces in place here to compete at the highest level."
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