Illini hoops star scoring great fitting into new campus role

Illini hoops star scoring great fitting into new campus role

Former Illini basketball star Deon Thomas, an analyst for the Fighting Illini Sports Network, has a new University of Illinois job.

Thomas was hired recently for a one-year position as community relations coordinator with the Office of Governmental Relations, based in Chicago. He is being paid $80,000.

Jim Oliver, a former long-time UI Extension staff member, filled this role for Bob Easter when he was university president, according to UI spokesman Tom Hardy.

Thomas' job description says he works at the direction of President Tim Killeen, serving as the liaison to the public for the Office of Governmental Relations, which coordinates UI's lobbying efforts.

The coordinator "implements community and public relations strategies that advance the University System's goals with key external and internal constituents" and "represents the University System to the community at large through the development and maintenance of relationships with key community groups, external agencies, and/or other interested parties."

Jennifer Creasey, the Univesity of Illinois system's director of state relations, said that Thomas is "strengthening our presence and relationships in Chicago and throughout the state" since being hired in November.

Thomas hosted a holiday giveaway attended by state legislators and aldermen, handing out 500 items to families in the community, and has had "many meetings with people about how to improve the lives of young men and women throughout the state," she said.

Before taking this job, Thomas was director of UIC Engage, a community outreach program through the UI Chicago College of Education that provides mentoring and educational opportunities to young people.

Before that, he was assistant coach of the UIC Flames men's basketball team.