Illini, Groce cuts ties with assistant Howard

Illinois coach John Groce said Tuesday assistant coach Jerrance Howard will not be retained on his new staff.

Howard was as an assistant to former Illinois coach Bruce Weber for five seasons, and he was the lead recruiter on a majority of the players on the team’s current roster. Howard also played for the Illini from 2001-2004.

Howard had two years remaining on his contract. He was to be paid $200,000 next season and $210,000 for the 2013-2014 season.

“Obviously, it’s been a difficult decision,” Groce said. “It’s hard. There were two or three routes I could have gone. I have made the decision that I’m going to hire outside. A lot of people have asked me a lot of questions about Jerrance Howard obviously over the last week. I certainly considered him very, very strongly. His work speaks for itself. He’s a done great job coaching, recruiting.

“He obviously is a former player. This place means a lot to him. That was obvious from the three conversations he and I had together as we sat down and talked. At the end of the day for me, it was about starting with a clean slate.

“I know Jerrance is going to be successful no matter who he’s working for and where he goes. Obviously as part of the Illini family, we’re going to support him as much as we can during this time of transition for him and his family. “

Jamall Walker and Dustin Ford, both assistants to Groce at Ohio, were named to the Illini’s staff on Monday. Groce still has one more assistant position to fill.