CHAMPAIGN -- The Illini officially announced on Monday that graduate manager James Haring has been promoted to Director of Basketball Operations.
The New Lenox, Ill. native takes over the position that was previously held by Mark Morris, who left the program in August to accept an opportunity with TeamWorks in North Carolina.
Haring is in his third year with the Illini, and his working experience within the program was one of the reasons he was the right choice for John Groce.
"We are thrilled to officially add James Haring to our program in a full-time capacity," Groce said. "He is a trusted member of our staff and a dedicated, tireless worker. James did an outstanding job serving our players and coaches as a graduate manager and is fully prepared to handle the many administrative duties involved with the day-to-day running of our program."
Lead basketball reporter Derek Piper sat down with Haring to ask him about the position and allow fans to get to know him better.
Derek Piper: First of all, congratulations on being named the DOBO for Illini hoops. What does that mean to you and how do you feel about that being the next step of your career?
James Haring: It's unbelievable. It's something, as a former manager and former GA, that next step is hopefully getting a video job or an ops job to actually become an assistant coach or head coach in the future. For me long term, it's great because it gives me that next opportunity to grow and develop, but to have it be at a place that I love and is very close to home and a place that I have a lot of relationships at, it's a dream come true. I remember being a little kid coming down to games with my dad and never thinking I'd be on staff at Illinois.
DP: Obviously, Groce and this program felt like you were the right guy for the job. What made you that in your mind?
JH: I think the past two years of experience definitely helped me out. I know a lot of the ins and outs of the program, and I know the expectations that (Groce) has, as well as the other coaches and staff members. I think that helped with the decision to allow me to be the next Director of Basketball Operations at Illinois. I sat next to Mark Morris the last two years and he showed me the way with what he does, and with what some other DOBOs around the country do. That really allowed me to have a better insight of what the job entails and what you need to get done, especially at Illinois.
DP: My next question was about Mark Morris. What did you take away from working with him?
JH: Just to be a working professional every day. Mark is a very professional guy. He does a really great job of being able to work with everybody. It doesn't matter if you're full-time staff, part-time staff, a student -- whether you've been at the university for 30 years or you've been at the university for three days. I really took that away from him. In this role, you've got to be able to work with everybody and not just a select few people. He did a great job at that. Over the last two years, I think he helped me get better at that. And that's a crucial characteristic for this position.
DP: For those who don't know, what will your job entail both during the season and during the offseason?
JH: During the season, you pretty much handle all aspects of travel. Whether that's getting the flight times in order, making sure the planes get from Point A to Point B on time. Other travel will consist of setting up buses and making sure all of the hotel accommodations are set up. Make sure the itineraries are actually accurate. Anything you can possibly think of with travel -- meals included. With both in season and out of season, scheduling practice times and workout times. Coordinating with our academic counselor on our players' class times, study hall times and tutoring. And just day-to-day scheduling for the staff with meetings, film sessions or anything you can possibly imagine. Something specific out of season is summer camp. That is huge. It takes up three weeks in June. The DOBO is the point man on anything summer camp related, and that is definitely a big part of it. Another aspect is handling the budget, and working with the business and administrative office on our program's budget. I'd say those are the biggest pieces of the job.
DP: This is your third year with the program. It wasn't guaranteed that you would be back here. I know you were looking for some other full-time opportunities over the summer. Does it feel like everything just fell into place for you?
JH: Yeah, I got really lucky. I'm very fortunate. I owe a lot to Coach Groce and everybody on staff. I think about it all the time being able to walk into the building everyday and love my job and love the people that I work with. The staff, obviously, but also seeing our guys on the floor and being able to watch them grow and develop. It's unbelievable. Just very fortunate and very appreciative of the opportunity.
DP: You're a Champaign restaurant connoisseur -- definitely more than this Champaign native. What other hidden talents or things do Illini fans need to know about you?
JH: Man, I do love food. There's a lot of great places in Champaign-Urbana that I love to go to for myself, but also for team meals and other things that we have going on with our program. I love to read. I don't get to as much as I'd like to. But I do like to read, especially some historical books, military books are very interesting. Definitely, food is number one though.
DP: You've played in the manager games in the past. Does this take you out? And if so, how does it feel to go out at the same time as Kobe?
JH: To be put in the same sentence as him is very flattering. I'm very flattered. It does take me out a little bit. But hopefully here and there, I'll be able to get some games in on the road depending on the makeup of our team and who's able to be there. I certainly expect our managers to continue to maintain the success we've had in manager games against other programs the night before the actual game.
DP: Lastly, what are your expectations for this team going into this season?
JH: I think we can have a great season. We've had a pretty good offseason. Obviously, we've gotten bigger, faster and stronger. Adam Fletcher was a big key to that. I know when he tweeted those photos out over the summer, a lot of people were impressed. He does a great job. Our players did a great job. But man, I'm excited. I really think we can have a great season, win some games and bring a level of excitement back to Champaign.