Dee Brown is coming back to Champaign.
The former Illini guard who was the face of the program's best recent years, which included a trip to the Final Four in 2005, was announced Wednesday morning as a special assistant to Illinois athletics director Mike Thomas for this summer.
"Dee brings an enthusiasm for the Fighting Illini that is second to none," Thomas said in the announcement. "His experiences as a student-athlete on campus and in the community, his successful pro career and now his returning to campus to give back to the Fighting Illini speaks volumes about the positive time that he had here. I'm very pleased to welcome Dee and his family back into the Fighting Illini in a formal capacity this summer with the hope that once his playing days conclude that he will be back in a yet-to-be-defined role. Dee will make our student-athletes and all of our teams and programs better on many fronts. It's a great day for Illinois athletics."
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Brown's addition to the athletics department comes at a time when Thomas and several programs are under fire for accusations that coaches have bullied their players, forced them to play injured and threatened to take their scholarships away. The football and women's basketball programs are both being investigated/reviewed by outside parties.
According to the announcement, Brown will have several specific duties this summer, including representing the athletics department at events, building relationships outside of the university and helping with fundraising, though the announcement also specified he will have recruiting responsibilities in numerous sports.
Though this role begins July 1 and lasts through the summer, Thomas said Brown will be back with the department after his final season playing professional basketball.
"Mike has a vision for Illinois athletics and a plan to realize it," Brown said in the announcement. "I'm truly honored to be a part of his vision and to begin working with him on several projects. 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."
Brown played 137 games in four seasons with the Illini and is the basketball program's third all-time leading scorer with 1,812 career points. He started more games and played more minutes than any other player in program history.