UI trustees may extend Groce's contract

UI trustees may extend Groce's contract

URBANA — Basketball coach John Groce was rewarded with a $200,000 raise, and a $25,000 bonus, after his first Illini team made the NCAA tournament in 2013.

Does he deserve a raise? Tell Tom Kacich about it here or get published with a Letter to the Editor here

This year's team failed to reach the tournament, with the Illini losing in the second round of the NIT.

But University of Illinois trustees are again considering an amendment to Groce's contract, with a possible extension of his five-year agreement. He currently earns $1.6 million annually, plus incentives.

Officials won't provide any details, but the UI Board of Trustees' Governance, Personnel and Ethics Committee will meet Thursday and review an agenda item reading: "amend multiyear contract with head varsity men's basketball coach."

Committee Chair Pamela Strobel said Monday she couldn't discuss the details of the proposed amendment until the committee reviews it on Thursday. The committee does not usually take formal votes on agenda items; the full board would vote at its regular meeting July 24 in Chicago.

Athletic officials did not return calls or would not comment on Groce's contract details.

UI spokesman Tom Hardy said the items on the committee's agenda are still drafts, and could be changed or even pulled before the meetings.

"We want to hold our public comments about it until then," he said.

Trustee Karen Hasara said Monday she hadn't seen the agenda item. But she added, "Unless it's totally out of line, the trustees usually trust the athletic director to do what's right."

"Before I could judge, I would have to get more detail. I know he's very popular," she said.

Athletic directors typically extend contracts and award raises to show confidence in their coaches and ward off negative recruiting by other schools.

Groce's original contract called for a base salary of $400,000 annually, plus $1 million in additional compensation for media and marketing activities. He also gets incentive payments of $25,000 to $250,000 each year for meeting specific goals, such as a Big Ten tournament title or NCAA tournament appearance.

Last year, he received a one-year extension through the 2017-18 season and a bump of $200,000, bringing his annual compensation $1.6 million.

In January, when trustees agreed to boost Athletic Director Mike Thomas' total compensation to nearly $1 million, Trustee James Montgomery called for a future discussion about big salaries in collegiate athletics.

The UI isn't alone, he said at the time, "but that's a lot of money."

Hasara and Hardy said they haven't heard much discussion since that meeting. Montgomery did not return a call to The News-Gazette.

While defending Thomas' raise, Chancellor Phyllis Wise also expressed concern in a January interview with The News-Gazette.

"I believe that the athletic salaries are on a different scale than academic salaries, but we have to keep them connected," she said at the time, adding, "the success of the university, in part, is seen through the eyes of athletics, and vice versa." "I think it's a national problem and not one that the university can fix, or even one that the Big Ten can fix," Wise said.

John Groce's current compensation package

Contract: Runs through April 30, 2018. Original five-year contract was extended by one year in April 2013.

Annual base pay: $400,000, from athletic department income.

Additional pay: $1.2 million a year for media and marketing appearances, shoe/apparel sponsorships, etc., paid with income from those contracts. (Increased from $1 million in April 2013.)

Athletic incentives: $25,000 to $250,000 each year for meeting various goals.

Academic incentives: Up to $50,000 a year if players meet certain standards.

Deferred compensation: $100,000 a year, or $500,000 total, for staying five years. Other perks: Country club membership and two automobiles (for him and his wife) with insurance paid.

Extra incentive

Bonuses in John Groce's current UI basketball contract:

Big Ten title: $125,000

Big Ten tournament title: $50,000

NCAA tournament: $25,000

Sweet 16: $50,000

Elite Eight: $75,000

Final Four: $100,000

National title: $250,000

National Coach of the Year: $50,000


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Bulldogmojo wrote on July 08, 2014 at 9:07 am

Pensions what pensions? Academic and staff pay increases, What academic and staff pay increases?

Lostinspace wrote on July 08, 2014 at 9:07 am

Remind me again: what is the stipend for TAs?

Flubber wrote on July 08, 2014 at 10:07 am

Like mentioned EVERY SINGLE TIME a DIA salary is mentioned in an article here...

Non civil service DIA salaries do not come out of tax payer dollars nor are they paid for with tuition or student fees. They are paid for by donations and money brought in strictly by the DIA. It is a self supporting entity.

TA stipends, pensions, or raises for civil service and academic professionals are completely separate and in no way associated with the costs of running the DIA.

Lostinspace wrote on July 08, 2014 at 10:07 am

If the program is financially independent from the University, it should be paying taxes as a commercial venture.

If it is not independent, it should be pouring profits back into the general fund for academic programs.

ERE wrote on July 08, 2014 at 12:07 pm
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Coach Groce is terrific, just awesome. A great representative of the University of Illinois, as much due to his character as his team wins. Hard working-he probably works more than 16x the amount of some of the faculty. (I'm a professor myself, so don't get defensive). 

But does he really need a raise to feel wanted and appreciated? What's up with that? 

Will he really be happier at $1.8 million than he is at $1.6 million? How much is enough? I doubt he is missing any meals. Can't believe he takes the salary to be an accurate metric of self-worth.

Don't get it at all. Let him win the Big Ten and/or NCAA and then consider a big bonus as recognition of achievement.  A fortune is being spent rennovating the State Farm Center, which will undoubtedly help recruiting. Enough. 

GeneralLeePeeved wrote on July 08, 2014 at 12:07 pm

The market for good coaches is extremely competitive due to the money that's at stake.  If you want to keep a coach like Groce, then you need to pay him the market rate, or somebody else will.   You think they don't increase pay for Law and Engineering professors that have other offers?   As for "Lost" above.....the DIA does funnel money back, in a way.  How do you think they pay for EVERY female sports program on campus....none of them come close to breaking even.  The also pay for every other male sports program on campus, with the exception of football.  Whether you like it or not, sports programs are still a big deal on college campuses and always will be.  Administrators and faculty both hate this reality......donors give more money to their favorite schools when the sports teams at those schools are doing well (study after study has proven this to be FACT)

billbtri5 wrote on July 08, 2014 at 12:07 pm

why spend  money you don't have to?  ....

jjohnson wrote on July 08, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Hey, "Lost," pay taxes on what? As a commercial venture it loses a ton of money that is only made up by "gifts" -- donations from contributors. I contribute to academics and athletics and I agree that the amounts paid coaches is absurd -- except that it is what the market dictates, and job security is not a given. FYI, one of the biggest ticket items is paying the tuition of those on athletic scholarship.

Because one of the three biggest sources of revenu for the athletic program is gate receipts and since Illinois actually has a pathetically fickle fan base, winning does matter, and while the best athletes win, coaching has a significant role to play and those coaches who can bring in both top athletes and make a significant contribution through coaching skills are able to receive a premium for their success.

Does it make sense? More importantly, given what beer companies pay for TV commercials, is there anything a single school can do about it?

By the way, my comments are not meant to reflect negatively on the coaches who are receiving these salaries. The coaches at Illinois with whom I have met these past several years are quality individuals.

John Johnson, Tucson, once-upon-a-time TA

Lostinspace wrote on July 08, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Could you be more specific?

The three sources are tickets, NCAA/TV, and donations?  Do you know figures for these three?

If sports are the front porch of the university, the people on the porch are living a lot better than the people in the house.

I hope that all donors split their gifts between academics (not buildings, not research, but teaching departments starved for resources and teachers living on less than the poverty level) and sports.  In fact, it would be a good idea to require that athletic fundraising be split 50-50.

If I make a donation to other commercial sports organizations - the Cubs, say - is there a tax advantage?  And don't tell me that basketball has anything to do with academics.  It's an entertainment enterprise for the region.  Nothing wrong with that, of course.

BruckJr wrote on July 08, 2014 at 3:07 pm

Is this projected raise to be based on perfomance?  Last year Gross finished 8-10 and in a three-way tie for 9th in the B10.  This year he finished 7-11 and in a two-way tie for 9th.  This year he finished better than Purdue, Northwestern and Penn State.  Last year he beat out Nebraska, Northwestern and Penn State.  Where is the basis for a raise?

Illini Drumline Guy wrote on July 08, 2014 at 9:07 pm

The arrow is way up on Groce and his program...plus the market is the market and if Illinois expects to compete with the best we need to compensate like the best....

Local Yocal wrote on July 09, 2014 at 12:07 pm
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Whatever weight is given to the role a coach plays in a team's success (and apparently coaches like Coach K and John Wooden seem to be able to attract and develop the talent) at putting the bally in the hoop; the more important, and broader institutional issues should be what kind of citizens is the school creating?

Pay the players (who do the actual work, without which, the coach's "genius" means nothing) a limit of $25,000 a semester, and provide lifetime scholarships to earn a degree or degrees out of gratitude for the revenue they generate. Lead the nation in righteousness, and soon you will lead the nation in national titles.

The more disturbing trend of universities is the grotesque prioirity given to athletics that's now beyond the university's control. You have to question a civilization who spends $160 million on skyboxes at the football stadium, and then another $160 million on skyboxes at The Insurance Company's Basketball Court; but its police officers can't say hello to a drunken basketball player walking across a parking lot late at night without driving the entire family out of town, or provide full medical coverage to all its citizens down at the local hospital.

In the big picture, for what Groce contributes to society, he's worth $150,000 a-year at the most. Now the guy who can, for instance, convert the entire power grid to wind turnbines or cure breast cancer 98% of the time, that guy (or gal) is worth $1.8 mil a year.