John Groce is out at Illinois.
Fighting Illini athletics director Josh Whitman announced Saturday afternoon that Groce, who helmed the men's basketball program for the past five season, has been relieved of his duties.
"I want to thank John Groce and his staff for their tireless efforts over these past five years," Whitman said in the announcement. "In many ways, John is a model leader. He exudes optimism and tackles every day with unbelievable energy. He has the highest integrity. He has been an active presence in our community and a strong public ambassador for Illinois basketball. Most importantly, he loves his players unconditionally and helps them develop into young men prepared for the next stages of their lives. Our student-athletes are having a positive experience, achieving record heights in the classroom, and leaving campus as proud graduates with bright futures.
"Under his leadership, regrettably, we were not able to sustain the level of competitive excellence that we expect at the University of Illinois. But that should do nothing to detract from the many wonderful things John has done on behalf of Illinois basketball during his tenure. We wish John, Allison and their three children nothing but the best, and we thank his staff and their families as well for their many contributions to our program. All will be missed."
Groce's firing comes just two days after his team was eliminated from the Big Ten Tournament in a 20-point loss to Michigan. Illinois is expected to miss the NCAA tournament for the fourth straight season when the field of 68 is announced Sunday.
Groce posted a 95-75 overall record and a 37-53 record in Big Ten games. The Illini reached the NCAA tournament in his first season but haven't received an invite to the Big Dance since.
Groce took over for Bruce Weber ahead of the 2012-13 season and won 23 games in his first year as head coach, though his win totals have decreased since. He won 20 games the following year and hasn't reached the 20-win mark in any of the last three seasons.
While Groce was set to welcome in his highest-rated recruiting class since his arrival in Champaign, he had many high-profile near misses in recruiting, most notably with Chicago-area prospects like Cliff Alexander and Jalen Brunson.
Whitman announced Saturday that a national search for Groce's replacement will begin immediately. In the meantime, assistant Jamal Walker has been named the program's interim coach.