Ohio's John Groce Accepts Illinois Head Coaching Position, Bobcats Reportedly Hire TCU's Jim Christian As Replacement

Ohio University men's basketball coach John Groce has accepted an offer to become the new Illinois head coach. The Bobcats have reportedly hired TCU head coach Jim Christian to replace him.

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6 Total Updates since March 27, 2012
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Ohio Bobcats Reportedly Hire Jim Christian As New Head Coach

With their coach John Groce off to greener pastures in Illinois, the Ohio Bobcats needed to hire a new head coach for their basketball program and reportedly, the hire is already done. Jason Arkley from The Athens Messenger reported on Monday that the Bobcats have hired Jim Christian, formerly of Texas Christian University, as their new coach and that he has already held a team meeting.

Christian has a good record in the MAC, coaching Kent State for several years with great success -- two MAC titles and two conference tournament wins -- before taking the job at TCU. He made either the NCAA tournament or the NIT all but one year during his time with the Golden Flashes.

Christian inherits a Bobcats team that went 29-8 and won the MAC Tournament in 2012 while making an impressive Sweet Sixteen run.

For more on the Ohio Bobcats, check out the MAC blog Hustle Belt. Head over to the SB Nation NCAA Basketball hub for more on college hoops.

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John Groce Will Be Introduced As Illinois Head Coach On Thursday

Illinois has announced that it will be holding a press conference on Thursday afternoon at 2:00 pm EST to introduce their new men's basketball coach. By all accounts and reports, it will be an introduction of John Groce, the now former Ohio University men's basketball coach. The official Illinois basketball Twitter account set out the following tweet.

Via @IlliniHoops:

There was heavy speculation all week that Groce and Illinois were hammering out the final details of a deal. It was originally rumored that there was a press conference scheduled as early as Tuesday, but there were reportedly a few hang-ups in the final steps of negotiations.

Via Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune:

Differences in contract length and assistant coaches salaries had been the major obstacles in a deal being reached between Groce and Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas.

Ohio, coming off an impressive run to the Sweet 16, is now left looking for a new head coach. Jeff Boals, who played at OU and is now an assistant to Thad Matta at Ohio State, is a name that's come up as a potential replacement.

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John Groce Accepts Illinois Head Coaching Job, According To Reports

Late Wednesday night news came out that Ohio University men's basketball coach John Groce had agreed to terms to become head coach at University of Illinois. Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune reported that a news conference would likely be scheduled for Thursday to make the announcement official. Ohio made a last-ditch effort to raise money to keep Groce on board, which could have been one of the reasons for the delay in Groce finalizing terms with Illinois.

Ohio University, which is coming off a remarkable run to the Sweet 16, will likely search among the assistant ranks of the Big Ten for a replacement. Ohio State assistant coach and Jeff Boals, who played at OU, is already a name being mentioned as a potential replacement.

Walter Offutt, who was a big part of the OU's March run and had that incredible game against North Carolina in the Sweet 16, reacted to the news with a Twitter message:

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Ohio University Trying To Raise Money To Keep John Groce

Administrators at Ohio University are trying to raise money to keep men’s basketball coach John Groce, who has emerged as a top candidate for the open position at Illinois. Reports yesterday indicated that Illinois and Groce were in the last steps of finalizing a deal and that he would be announced as the new head coach in the near future. But the AP is now reporting that OU is doing all it can to halt that movement, including a drive to raise more cash to offer Groce.

Via AP:

A spokesman for the Ohio University says administrators there are trying to find money to give the school’s basketball coach a raise and keep him in Ohio.

[…]

Ohio athletics spokesman Drew Wiseman said Wednesday that administrators there aren’t sure yet where the money would come from but that they’d like to keep Groce.

Groce coached in the Big Ten as an assistant to Thad Matta at Ohio State, so it’s a natural step for him to return at Illinois. But throughout the tournament, he continually expressed his satisfaction with and love for the OU community and administration.

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Illinois Set To Hire Ohio's John Groce, According To Report

Just one day after it was reported that Illinois was going to look at Ohio University's John Groce for its vacant head coaching position, it's now being reported that Groce is "the guy." The Chicago Sun Times is reporting that Groce will be hired as the new basketball coach for the Fighting Illini:

Barring a shocking change, Ohio U. coach John Groce will be hired as Illinois' new basketball coach, multiple sources said Tuesday, indicating it's more a case of when, not if, the announcement will come.

That's strong language: "when, not it," which does make this look as though it's happening. Nothing has been made official, and Illinois has yet to announce a press conference to introduce Groce, which is contradictory to some other reports. Still, there's no news on any dollar amounts or anything of that nature, and no official word that the sides are actually done working out all of the details.

Still, the report says that it's going to get done "today or tomorrow", barring any last-second catastrophe. It does fit in line with some of the other candidates that Illinois has pursued of late, though Groce is one a much smaller scale and is known by a lot less people than, say, Brad Stevens or Shaka Smart. As the report notes, it may not be a popular signing for the Illinois fanbase, but Illinois has courted plenty of big names who were just loyal to their schools.

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Illinois Interested In Ohio's John Groce, According To Report

Ohio University men's basketball coach John Groce has emerged as a potential candidate for the head coaching position at Illinois, according to a report.

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