The shovels are set to hit dirt on another project at the University of Kansas — this time with a lean toward history.
Kansas will break ground Friday on the $18 million DeBruce Center, the new home for James Naismith’s original “Rules of Basket Ball”.
The new 32,000-square-foot building will sit just northeast of Allen Fieldhouse and display the rules of basketball. According to Kansas, the rules display will be “flanked by the stories” of Naismith, the game’s inventor, and legendary coach Phog Allen.
The center, which will be connected to Allen Fieldhouse via a second-floor concourse, will also feature a student activity center, retail dining, café seating and a new training-table setting for both the KU men’s and women’s basketball teams.
The primary donation for the project came from Kansas alums Paul and Katherine DeBruce of Mission Hills.
Paul DeBruce is CEO and founder of the DeBruce Grain Inc., which operates grain-handling facilities. In 2010, the company became a subsidiary of Gavilon LLC. DeBruce served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Federal Reserve in 2011 and 2012.
“Katherine and I are excited and lucky to be part of this new facility at KU,” Paul DeBruce said when the project was announced. “Our years on the Hill helped provide a foundation for each of us to be successful and give back to our community.”
The rules were purchased at an auction in December 2010 by Kansas alumni David Booth and his wife, Suzanne, for $4.3 million. Their desire was to have the documents reside at KU. The rules have spent most of the last three years in Austin, Texas, where the Booths live.
The rules were in Naismith’s possession until he died in 1939 in Lawrence and were then kept by his son, Jimmy.
Jimmy’s son Ian came into possession of the rules. He received several offers for them and once considered displaying them in the Smithsonian.
The rules became part of Ian Naismith’s extensive travels. He’d carry them in a metal display case on tours and to events such as the Final Four before putting them up for auction at Sotheby’s.
“It’s where they need to be,” Ian Naismith said after the auction. He died in 2012.