USA Today // Mike Granse

Report: Akron to hire former Illinois coach John Groce

Former Illini coach John Groce heading back to the MAC

Update - April 5

Akron officially announced the hiring of John Groce.

"From the enviable position of much sustained success in our men's basketball program, we concentrated our search on finding a Division I coach with a proven track record of excellence, winning, and post-season appearances, combined with a focus on academics and discipline. Coach Groce has that combination." Akron athletics director Larry Williams said in a statement. "We're extraordinarily pleased that he will be bringing his impressive experience and background to our Zips basketball program."

"Coach Groce has the commitment to excellence that has been instilled in our program, and I am confident that he will continue to build on that core and achieve even greater successes in the years ahead," President Wilson stated. "He is passionate about winning the right way, and I know our student-athletes and UA fans and supporters will be excited to see his energy, enthusiasm, and coaching skill on our side of the court."

Original story - April 4

ESPN's Jeff Goodman reports Akron is close to hiring John Groce as its head basketball coach. The former Illinois coach will replace Keith Dambrot, who left the Zips after 13 seasons to take the Duquesne job.

Groce, who also had interest from Indiana to join Archie Miller as an assistant, takes over an Akron program that has won back-to-back Mid-American Conference regular-season championships. Akron won 20-plus games in 12 straight seasons under Dambrot.

Groce was fired after five seasons at Illinois after he missed four straight NCAA Tournaments. He went 95-75 overall and 37-53 in the Big Ten.

Groce heads back to the MAC, where he reached two NCAA Tournaments in four seasons as the head coach by winning the MAC Tournament in 2010 and 2012. At Ohio, he went 85-56 overall and 34-30 in the MAC.

The Indiana native knows the Ohio region well, serving as an assistant at Ohio State for four years as well.

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