Illinois athletic director Mike Thomas announced the hiring of Fighting Illini basketball legend Dee Brown this morning as a a special assistant for the summer of 2015. Brown, who is still currently playing overseas in Europe, will assume the position on July 1st and will serve as an ambassador of sorts for various departments through the end of the summer.
According to a press release early Wednesday, Brown's responsibilities will include "representing the Director of Athletics and Illinois Athletics at a variety of campus and off-campus functions and meetings, and relationship building with campus administrators and local and regional business leaders and donors. Additional aspects will include outreach efforts and fundraising." Brown will also be assisting men's head basketball coach John Groce in the recruiting process in accordance to NCAA regulations.
Brown, the 2005 Sporting News national player of the year, was the face of the famed 2004-2005 Illini team that finished the year 37-2 and won national runner up after losing to North Carolina in the championship game. A tremendously talented point guard, he also was named to first team All-America that same year and won the 2006 Bob Cousey award for best point guard in the country.
"I'm truly honored to be a part of [Director Thomas'] vision and to begin working with him on several projects," Brown said. My role is not just about me as a former basketball player, it's about giving back to the best school in the country that has given me so much as a student and as an athlete. I may have left Illinois physically when I graduated, but I never left it in my heart and now I have the chance to be back in Orange and Blue. This is a great day and what I hope will be the beginning of my career off the court!"
A possible upside for Brown joining the Illini team will be establishing relationships with high school recruits in the Chicagoland area. Brown came out of Proviso East High School, a basketball powerhouse on the west side of the city, and it is the hope of both John Groce and Mike Thomas that this will assist in redeveloping a pipeline of talent from Chicago to Champaign.
"Dee Brown is without question one of the best and most beloved players ever to wear the Fighting Illini uniform," Groce said. "I've enjoyed building a relationship with him over the last three years and am inspired by the passion he has for our basketball program and this University. He is a proud graduate who wants the best for all our current student-athletes and will work hard to help move Illini Athletics forward."
Welcome back aboard Dee!