John Groce is the Illinois basketball coach no more.
On Saturday, the university announced the Fighting Illini head coach has been relieved of his duties after five seasons at the helm. During his time leading Illinois, Groce compiled a 95-75 record.
However, Groce had a a record of 37-53 in Big Ten play, which ultimately just wasn’t going to cut it.
The Fighting Illini terminated Groce’s contract with two years remaining.
Illinois Director of Athletics Josh Whitman issued the following statement on Groce’s firing:
“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.”
Groce’s firing is effective immediately, so the Fighting Illini can begin their search for a new head coach.
In the meantime, assistant coach Jamall Walker will serve as the program’s interim coach.