Big Ten

New AD: John Groce to continue as Illini basketball coach


New AD: John Groce to continue as Illini basketball coach

Despite a season that, pending a miracle run in the Big Ten Tournament, will end as Illinois' third straight campaign without an NCAA tournament appearance, John Groce will continue to be the Fighting Illini's head coach.

New Illinois athletics director Josh Whitman gave Groce his vote of confidence Saturday during a radio interview on WDWS.

"I think it's important today that folks understand that John Groce is going to continue to be our basketball coach," Whitman said in the interview, his quote published by the Champaign News-Gazette. "He's a first-class individual and an excellent leader. He's a student of basketball and leadership, and I feel really comfortable with the leadership he's given our guys."

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This season has not gone well for the Illini, who finish their regular-season schedule Sunday against Penn State. A slew of injuries — including season-enders to Tracy Abrams, Mike Thorne and Leron Black, all three projected starters — has made for a rocky road during what is at the moment a 13-17 overall record and a 5-12 mark in Big Ten play. It follows what was a disappointing season a year ago, when injuries were the story, as well. Abrams missed the entirety of last season, too, and star scorer Rayvonte Rice missed a nine-game chunk of conference play with an injury and a suspension. The Illini finished 19-12 overall and 9-9 during the regular season before getting blown out of the Big Ten Tournament by Michigan and blown out of the NIT by Alabama.

Groce's program has also been affected by off-the-court issues in recent seasons. Two arrests in two years forced the yearlong suspension and then the dismissal of Darius Paul. Both Rice and Aaron Cosby were suspended during last season, with Cosby eventually leaving the team. And Black is currently suspended indefinitely after he was charged with pulling a knife on a bouncer at a nightclub.

But there are multiple reasons why it makes sense that Whitman sticks with Groce. Certainly this run of horrible injury luck has to end at some point. The results the past two seasons can be excused to a degree considering the large amount of time missed by key players. But also there's been good news on the recruiting trail for Groce of late. He finally landed a point guard in Milwaukee's Te'Jon Lucas, currently the lone member of the Illini's Class of 2016. And just last weekend, the Class of 2017 got a serious injection of talent with Peoria guard Da'Monte Williams, a four-star recruit and the son of former Illinois star Frank Williams. That addition coupled with Belleville guard Javon Pickett has things looking real good for the future.

That being said, even with Whitman's vote of confidence Saturday, Groce's margin for error can't be too big. Results are ultimately what coaches are judged on, and while last season's tourney miss made it the first back-to-back years without an invite to the Big Dance since 1992, this season would be the first time Illinois has missed three straight NCAA tournaments since 1980, the season before the Illini snapped a 16-year tournament drought.

Groce has his athletics director's support at the moment. It's up to him to do some winning to earn it for the long term.

Big Ten officially postpones 2020 college football, other fall sports

Big Ten officially postpones 2020 college football, other fall sports

The Big Ten has officially postponed all fall sports, including football, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The conference announced the decision in a statement on Tuesday, but left the door open for the fall sports to be played next spring.

“Our primary responsibility is to make the best possible decisions in the interest of our students, faculty and staff,” said Morton Schapiro, Chair of the Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors and Northwestern University President.

“The mental and physical health and welfare of our student-athletes has been at the center of every decision we have made regarding the ability to proceed forward,” said Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. “As time progressed and after hours of discussion with our Big Ten Task Force for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Big Ten Sports Medicine Committee, it became abundantly clear that there was too much uncertainty regarding potential medical risks to allow our student-athletes to compete this fall.
“We know how significant the student-athlete experience can be in shaping the future of the talented young women and men who compete in the Big Ten Conference. Although that knowledge made this a painstaking decision, it did not make it difficult. While I know our decision today will be disappointing in many ways for our thousands of student-athletes and their families, I am heartened and inspired by their resilience, their insightful and discerning thoughts, and their participation through our conversations to this point. Everyone associated with the Big Ten Conference and its member institutions is committed to getting everyone back to competition as soon as it is safe to do so.”

In addition to football, cross country, field hockey, soccer and women’s volleyball seasons were postponed.

“The Big Ten Conference will continue to evaluate a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring,” the conference said in the statement. “Decisions regarding winter and spring sports will also continue to be evaluated.”

RELATED: Notre Dame will play for ACC conference championship in 2020 football season


Reports: 2020 Big Ten football season in jeopardy due to COVID-19

USA Today

Reports: 2020 Big Ten football season in jeopardy due to COVID-19

There may be no college football for Big Ten schools this fall.

According to several reports, the Big Ten school presidents voted 12-2 on Sunday to not play football this fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Dan Patrick, the two schools in favor of playing were Iowa and Nebraska. There are conflicting reports on whether the season will be postponed or canceled, but Dan Patrick says the official news will be released tomorrow.

On his show, Patrick said he followed up with his source, who said, “Three Big Ten teams that I’ve spoken with said, ‘It’s done.’”

In response, more reports have come out saying the SEC has gathered for a previously unscheduled meeting on Monday morning.

According to Patrick’s report, the SEC is trying to delay and see if either the ACC or Big 12 will join them in playing this fall.

The MAC conference decided to cancel it’s football season on Aug. 8.

In addition, on Aug. 5 a coalition of Big Ten players published a Players’ Tribune article asking for a comprehensive plan to keep them safe during the COVID-19 pandemic if the league was to go forward with the season.

RELATED: Northwestern Wildcats pause football workouts after positive COVID-19 test