University of Akron men's basketball: Coach John Groce signs through 2026

George M. Thomas
Akron Beacon Journal
University of Akron basketball coach John Groce received a three-year contract extension to lead the Zips. [Phil Masturzo/Beacon Journal]

The University of Akron announced a contract extension, pending Board of Trustees approval, for men’s basketball coach John Groce on Tuesday.

Groce came to UA after a five-year stint at Illinois ended in 2017. Since his arrival, he’s put his stamp on a basketball program that suffered because of more than a few departures after former coach Keith Dambrot left for Duquesne, in essence rebuilding the program in three years, resetting the contract and earning the back three years of his initial six-year contract, Director of Athletics Larry Williams said.

Groce's contract, which has reportedly gone up from $350,000 to $600,000 annually since he was hired, is note be include another raise.

“He did a nice job this year,” Williams said, “probably not as nice as he would have liked to, but he did a nice job. He’s a hell of a basketball coach. The university is lucky to have him.”

"I often say 'It Takes a Village' and this extension is really a reflection of the outstanding job our student-athletes, staff and support staff have done over the last four years. We have a lot of positive momentum and are excited for the opportunity to add to that moving forward,” Groce said in a news release. “Our daily focus and attention continues to be on helping the University, athletic department and men's basketball program strive for excellence. We are beyond excited to work with our community, university, alumni, fans and our student-athletes to make that happen.”

Groce's focus has been on developing a team that’s tough, physical and with a sense of what he calls “teamism.”

In his four seasons at UA, Groce led the Zips to the 2020 regular season Mid-American Conference and the top seed in the MAC Tournament before it was canceled due to COVID-19. He has a 70-49 record, including 39-15 in the past two seasons.

It points to a program that could still be ascending with the possibility of returning to the days of challenging for the tournament title every year. With his current success, there’s little doubt that Groce could draw attention if the right job opening were to transpire.

Reach George M. Thomas at or follow him on Twitter at @ByGeorgeThomas