Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Men's College Basketball [Print without images]

Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Updated: March 29, 1:13 PM ET
Sources: John Groce to coach Illinois

By Andy Katz and Jon Greenberg
ESPN.com

Illinois will hold a news conference Thursday to announce John Groce as the Illini's next coach, multiple sources told ESPN.com on Wednesday night.

Groce took Ohio to the Sweet 16 this season before the Bobcats lost to North Carolina in overtime.

Illinois was working on the news conference and release Wednesday.

Groce and athletic director Mike Thomas negotiated over the contract before a deal was finally struck earlier Wednesday.

Throughout the day Tuesday, Thomas said through a spokesperson that the deal wasn't done yet. Sources close to Groce said that he spent early Tuesday calling around to discuss the contract and ensure that it was the right deal for him.

An Ohio source said Groce was in Athens, Ohio, on Wednesday, and had a meeting scheduled with his team Thursday morning before flying to Champaign for a news conference.

Groce, 40, replaces Bruce Weber, who was fired March 9 after nine seasons. The Illini failed to reach the NCAA tournament this past season for the third time since 2008 and went 41-49 in the Big Ten during that span. Illinois finished 17-15 overall and 6-12 in the Big Ten in 2011-2012.

Groce has been one of the country's hottest coaching names after leading the No. 13-seeded Bobcats to a Sweet 16 run, which included wins over No. 4-seeded Michigan and No. 12-seeded South Florida, and ended with an overtime loss to top-seeded North Carolina.

It was Ohio's second appearance in the NCAA tournament in Groce's four seasons. The Bobcats won the MAC tournament title as a No. 9 seed in 2010 and went on to upset No. 3 Georgetown as a No. 14 seed in the NCAA tournament. They lost to Tennessee in the following round.

Ohio went 29-8 overall and 11-5 in the MAC this past season. The Bobcats finished third in the MAC East. The Bobcats have gone 85-56 overall and 34-30 in conference in Groce's four years.

John Groce
John Groce, who lead Ohio to the Sweet 16 this season, will coach Illinois, multiple sources told ESPN.com

Groce arrived at Ohio after being an Ohio State assistant coach from 2004-2008. With the Buckeyes, he developed a reputation as an elite recruiter as he helped sway Greg Oden and Mike Conley Jr. to Ohio State.

Groce was also previously an assistant at Xavier from 2001-2004, at Butler from 2000-2001, North Carolina State from 1996-2000 and Taylor (Ind.) University from 1993-1996.

Groce was born in Muncie, Ind., and played for Todd Lickliter at Danville High School in Indiana. Groce later played at Taylor, an NAIA program.

He has recruited the state of Illinois before. At Ohio, he signed Bobcats current starting point guard D.J. Cooper from Seton Academy in South Holland, a Chicago suburb, and former Ohio player James Kinney from Champaign Centennial.

Groce or Illinois will have to pay Ohio $200,000 for terminating his contract early. He signed a contract extension in April of 2010 that took him through the 2014-2015 season.

Groce made a base salary of $250,000 in the 2011-2012 season. He also was given $25,000 for radio and television appearances and $25,000 for public appearances. He also earned bonuses of $5,000 for a conference winning record, $10,000 for winning the MAC tournament championships, $20,000 for winning two NCAA tournament games and $20,000 for being one of the final 16 teams remaining in the NCAA tournament.

Illinois owes Weber $3.9 million after firing him with three years remaining on his contract.

ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers contributed to this report.