The original rules of basketball are moving into some swanky digs. The University of Kansas announced late Wednesday that the 19th century papers upon which James Naismith created the parameters for hoops while teaching in Springfield, MA, would be the centerpiece of an $18 million building. The three-story center will also house dining and meeting facilities for students and be connected to the corner of historic Allen Fieldhouse.
The rules were purchased by KU grads David and Suzanne Booth through Heritage Auctions for $4.3 million in December of 2010, which at the time was the most money ever paid for a piece of sports memorabilia. The purchase became a catalyst for the university to plan construction of the new center and donations will cover the bulk of the project.
Naismith invented basketball in 1891 as a 30-year-old physical educator teacher trying to entertain a restless class of students during the winter months. They have been displayed publicly at various times by Naismith’s descendants but never had a permanent public home.
Two other alums, Paul and Katherine DeBruce, have donated a large share of the expected construction costs for the new building.
“This entire project is made possible through the generosity of KU’s friends and supporters. Thanks to Paul and Katherine, the DeBruce Center will be an outstanding place for the KU community to gather and will provide the university with a space to welcome visitors and fans,” said Kansas Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.
Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger expressed appreciation to the DeBruces. “The DeBruce Center will serve not only as a ‘must-see’ destination landmark for sports fans and history buffs, but also as an important, integral part of campus, benefiting KU students, faculty and visitors alike. We also again want to thank David and Suzanne Booth for ensuring that basketball’s original rules found their way to their rightful home,” said Zenger.