CHAMPAIGN — When Illinois basketball coach John Groce was asked about his job status during a pre-Big Ten tournament press conference Tuesday afternoon, the fifth-year Illini coach declined to speculate about the future.
“I’m not worried about that right now,” Groce said. “I’m worried about Michigan on Thursday. It would be hypocritical for me to tell the players that we’re climbing the ladder, taking one step at a time and doing it that way every single day and then to not do that myself would be hypocritical.
“So all I’m focused on is practice today and hopefully we’ll have a good one today and then once that’s in the bank we’ll take the next step tomorrow and so obviously trying to predict the future or look back in the rearview mirror, in my opinion is a waste of time.”
Speculation has swirled among Illini Nation this season about Groce’s status with the program past this season. Groce is 95-74 overall at Illinois and 37-53 in the Big Ten. Now second year athletic director Josh Whitman has declined all interview requests until after the basketball season.
“Josh and I talk weekly, daily sometimes. He’s with us on every trip and his support has been awesome but I’m going to be honest with you. For me, I’m going one day at a time. He’s been fantastic and I couldn’t ask for more support. He’s been great and we talk a lot about our team, recruiting or whatever it might be.”