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URBANA — The University of Illinois Dads Association 2023 King Dad’s ties to the campus run deep … even though he isn’t an alumnus himself.
For one, Tom Mulchrone is the brother of three former Illini football players: John (’81), Peter (’83) and Robert (’91). Tom was also considered for the team, but ended up a few miles south at Eastern Illinois University, from which he graduated in 1988.
For another, all three of his kids went to the UI, including current senior Donna, who nominated him to be King Dad.
“It’s been my grand plan since they were very young,” Mulchrone said.
He and wife, Shelley, live in Palos Heights and have family in Mt. Vernon, making Champaign-Urbana the perfect midpoint for family gatherings or a quick stop on road trips.
EIU would’ve been an acceptable choice too, Mulchrone said, but he’s completely thrilled with his kids’ choices.
“University of Illinois does a great job all around. Nothing but good experiences,” he said. “My daughters have all done great, it’s worked out really good for us.”
Family is big for Mulchrone; he named Donna after his mom.
With her about to graduate, this is his 11th and final Dads Weekend.
Mulchrone said he’s flattered to be chosen, especially knowing Donna had to put in a good word for him.
“She’s busy with schoolwork and applying for grad schools and her job down there, and she found time to do this also,” Mulchrone said.
Criteria for King Dad includes the dad’s commitment to his role as a father and his honesty and patience, as described by his kids.
Mulchrone is a building engineer with Chicago schools and a proud member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399.
He says he only makes it down to UI a few times a semester, but Dads Weekend is a must.
King Dad gets some special treatment: luxury suite spots at Saturday’s football game and breakfast with Chancellor Robert Jones, to name a few.
Football is the main Illini sport Mulchrone follows, but he was still happy to take the family to Friday’s basketball game as well.
Mulchrone is looking forward to seeing the crowd from the field when he gets crowned at halftime on Saturday, as well as his appearance on the jumbotron.
“Other than just spending the Dads Weekend with my daughter like we do every year,” Mulchrone said. “That’s definitely going to be the highlight of it.”