Kansas Breaks Ground for DeBruce Center, Naismith Rules

Paul DeBruce talks to Jayhawk supporters
at Friday’s groundbreaking.

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – One of the most storied programs in college basketball took another step toward asserting its prestige and place in history as the University of Kansas broke ground on the 32,000-square-foot DeBruce Center Friday. The center, made possible by a leadership gift from the DeBruce Foundation, will permanently house James Naismith’s original “Rules of Basket Ball”, strengthening the school’s tie to the inventor of the game and Jayhawks’ first coach.
Representatives of the University of Kansas, including KU Chancellor Burnadette Gray-Little, Far Above Campaign Chair Kurt Watson and KU Endowment President Dale Seuferling, joined KU Director of Athletics Sheahon Zenger and head basketball coaches Bonnie Henrickson and Bill Self in addressing attendees outside the northeast corner of Allen Fieldhouse. After the remarks, which included appreciation for David and Suzanne Booth, who purchased the original rules of basketball at auction in 2010, and the DeBruce Foundation, whose lead gift made the center possible, there was a ceremonial groundbreaking for the center that will also serve as a student union for the south side of KU’s campus.   

“The DeBruce Center will be a hub for students and for the university community. It will be a meeting center, it will be a place that has dining options. It will be a place that draws visitors to the University of Kansas – visitors that want to see the rightful home of the original rules of basketball,” Gray-Little said. “This is a wonderful day for the university – a great day for Kansas basketball and for the entire university.”

Naismith’s original “Rules of Basket Ball” written in 1891 will be displayed prominently in the building and will be flanked by the stories of Naismith, “the Father of Basketball,” and Allen, “the Father of Basketball Coaching.” Self, who has led Kansas to 10-straight Big 12 league titles in 11 years, said the facility will make KU basketball second to none.

“We are all so spoiled, and I am more spoiled than anyone here because I get the opportunity to be the basketball coach at the most storied, tradition-rich school in the country,” Self said. “What Paul (DeBruce), his family, and the DeBruce Foundation have done is to ensure that it is not debatable anymore.

“It has been debatable that (Allen Fieldhouse) is the best home-court in college basketball. It is debatable that there are other schools out there that can challenge. It will not be debatable any longer once this structure is erected and we are able to house the rules, and take what is the coolest and most historic building, where the walls still sweat, and add all the modern amenities that every school in the country would yearn for. We are the only school that gets to do that.”

With a connection to Allen Fieldhouse through the second-floor concourse and the Booth Hall of Athletics, the DeBruce Center will support future exhibits around the history of the game and Kansas’ rich basketball tradition.

The center will also consist of a student activity center built to accommodate seating for 320 that includes retail dining, café seating, a new training table setting for both the KU men’s and women’s basketball teams and a catered event space.

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