At Illinois, Groce made just one NCAA Tournament and had an overall record of 95-75 before being fired last month. Injuries were an issue during his tenure, as were off-the-court incidents that resulted in several suspensions and dismissals. In the end, it was Groce’s inability to turn the corner and compete in the Big Ten that cost him his job.
The Indiana-native is a member of both the Herb Sendek and Thad Matta coaching trees. Before getting the Ohio job in 2012, Groce spent eight seasons as one of Matta’s assistants across three schools (Butler, Xavier and Ohio State). The recruiting experience and familiarity with the area made him a success at Ohio, leading the Bobcats to two NCAA Tournaments in four years and a trip to the 2012 Sweet Sixteen.
The Akron job opened last month when Keith Dambrot, an alum and the Zips head coach for 13 years, left to take over the Duquesne program. Under Dambrot, Akron was a regular in the NCAA Tournament and NIT. Groce will look to build on that success.