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Groce's solid first season at Illinois rewarded with raise, contract extension

Illinois has rewarded coach John Groce's successful first season in Champaign with a contract extension and a $200,000-a-year raise.

Athletic Director Mike Thomas said Saturday that Groce's contract will be extended one year through the 2017-18 season. The raise will increase his pay to $1.6 million a year. Both changes still need approval of the university's board of trustees.

Thomas said the team's 23-13 record is a sign it's headed toward playing championship-caliber basketball.

Groce credited his players for buying into his system early and keeping great attitudes. Groce came to Illinois after a four-year run at Ohio.

The Illini made it to the NCAA tournament and defeated Colorado before losing to Miami. They finished 8-10 in the Big Ten.

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Follow David Mercer on Twitter: http://twitter.com/DavidMercerAP