Men’s Basketball: Illinois Turns to Groce, Fans Turn To Petition

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Bobcat Nation was strong in the NCAA Tournament. Green-and-White supporters bought up the most tickets in Nashville, the site of Ohio's second and third round games. Many of those same fans were going absolutely bonkers in St. Louis as the Bobcats nearly upset the top-seeded Tar Heels. Bobcat Nation exploded, in the stands and on Twitter, with every made basket, steal and defensive stand. The fans in the Edward Jones Dome didn't sit down for the entire game.

Those members of the nation are now standing up to keep the coach that got the team there.

Fans have started a Stay at Ohio University: We Want Coach John Groce to Remain a Bobcat! petition and a John Groce, Please Don't Go Facebook page to encourage him to stay in Athens.

What has Bobcat Nation so fired up?

A Chicago Tribune article reported that Illinois "will now focus on Ohio coach John Groce," after Butler's coach Brad Stevens turned down the Illini job. An earlier report from CBSSports' Jeff Goodman said that Groce "has been contacted by the Illini — via a third-party — and has expressed interest in the position."

The Tribune article reported Stevens turned down a deal worth around $2.5 million per year. If a similar offer was given to Groce it would be 10 times more than what he makes at Ohio (Groce's base salary is about $250,000).