Updated Thu, Mar 29, 2012 8:27 pm
Ohio University Athletic Director Jim Schaus addressed the media on Thursday, reacting to former Ohio head basketball coach John Groce's hiring at the University of Illinois.
"I want to congratulate John Groce," Schaus said in his opening statement to a handful of Athens media members. "It's a great opportunity for him."
Schaus wouldn't discuss any candidates for the vacant position, saying he would like to keep the search confidential. He said the university is open to any kind of candidate, and that the department has launched a national search for its next head coach. Schaus estimated that the department would like to have the position filled in the next "week to 10 days."
Potential coaching candidates for Ohio include current assistant coach Dustin Ford, who played for Ohio and graduated in 2001, and Jeff Boals, a current assistant at Ohio State, former player for Ohio and a 1994 graduate of Ohio University.
"The search has to be fairly expedient but it certainly won't be rushed," Schaus said. "There really isn't any specific type of candidate that we need."
Groce resigned from his position with Ohio to take the previously vacant head coaching job at Illinois. Groce's contract at Illinois is reported to be a five-year deal worth approximately $1.4 million. The 40-year-old was making $300,000 before performance incentives as the head coach at Ohio, and he will owe Ohio University $200,000 to buyout of his Ohio contract.
"I really don't think it was about the money," Schaus added. "It was about a dream. I have no regrets."
Schaus said Ohio Athletics was prepared to raise Groce's salary, but didn't disclose an actual figure.
Becky Watts, the Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to Ohio University President Roderick McDavis, told WOUB that "while there were verbal discussions, no specifics were ever finalized and no written offer was ever presented."
Schaus admitted he spoke to Groce about the future of the Ohio program on Sunday night, then was in contact with Groce "once a day" while Groce was in contract negotiations with the Illini. Schaus said he learned that Groce had taken the Illinois job late Wednesday night, and said he "probably" relayed that information to Ohio University President Roderick McDavis.
Schaus was also in the Thursday morning meeting in which Groce informed his players in person that he would be leaving to take the Illinois job. Groce called having to tell his Ohio players "the only 'con'" of taking the Illinois job.
"I think the players were great," Schaus said. "They had a great attitude and they understood what was going on. I was impressed, not surprised.
"The team is fine, they understand that this is part of the process, part of the business. They seem to be adult about it."