Illinois rewards Groce with extension, $200K-a-year raise wire reports

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- 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.

"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 in a news release.

Groce credited his players, most of whom he inherited from a team that finished the previous season 17-15 and lost 12 of their last 14, costing coach Bruce Weber his job.

The Illini won 23 games, made it to the NCAA tournament and defeated Colorado before losing to Miami. They finished 8-10 in the Big Ten.

"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."

Groce came to Illinois after a four-year run at Ohio.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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