What do you do when you don’t want your head coach to leave for another school? Give him more money.
That’s exactly what the Illinois Fighting Illini did with men’s basketball head coach John Groce. Illinois awarded Groce a $200,000 raise on each season and extended his contract through the 2017-18 season. He now makes a total of $1.6 million a year.
Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas announced the decision Saturday and exclaimed the university’s pleasure to extend Groce’s contract in a news release.
“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 championship level,” Thomas said.
Thomas’ enthusiasm doesn’t come as much of a surprise, after Groce led the Illini to a 23 win season and an NCAA tournament win over Colorado. Groce will now face the task of recruiting his own team, as he inherited a slew of players who finished 17-15 before his arrival.
Previously Groce spent four seasons with Ohio.
The Illini finished 8-10 in the Big 10, but do appear to be on the upswing in the conference. Illinois has emerged as a second-tier team in the conference and looks to be competitive at the top in 2013-14. With the departure of Michigan‘s Trey Burke and Indiana’s tandem of Victor Oladipo and Tyler Zeller, the Big 10 conference title is up for grabs.
John Engel is a Pac-12 basketball writer for Rant Sports and also works for ESPNLA 710 AM radio in Los Angeles. Follow John on Twitter: @engelsportsguy.