Groce named new men's basketball coach at Illinois

Illinois has named John Groce as its new men's basketball coach.

Groce spent the past four seasons at Ohio University and guided the Bobcats to a pair of NCAA Tournament appearances. This year's squad was 29-8 and reached the NCAA Sweet 16, taking North Carolina to overtime before losing to the Tar Heels in a Midwest Region semifinal.

"I am extremely pleased to introduce John Groce as our men's basketball coach," said Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas on Thursday. "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."

In four years at Ohio, Groce posted a record of 85-56. He also took the Bobcats to the 2010 NCAA Tournament and they pulled off another surprise that spring with a first-round upset of Georgetown.

Before taking over at Ohio, Groce had numerous stops as an assistant from 1993 through 2008. He spent three years at his alma mater, Taylor University of the NAIA level, then moved on to North Carolina State, Butler, Xavier and Ohio State.

"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 about joining the Illini. "The Midwest background and values we share makes this 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."

Illinois needed a replacement for Bruce Weber, who was fired on March 9, one day after the Fighting Illini lost in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament and finished with a record of 17-15. Illinois was off to a 15-3 start and entered the rankings in mid-January after an upset of Ohio State, but went 2-12 the rest of the way.

Weber was 210-101 in nine seasons with the Illini, winning a pair of Big Ten regular-season championships and one Big Ten Tournament crown. He also took the program to the brink of an NCAA championship, as Illinois lost to North Carolina in the title game of 2005 NCAA Tournament.