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U. of Kansas building $18m facility to house Naismith rules

Photo: Raleigh News & Observer/Getty Images

James Naismith wrote the original basketball rulebook and founded the basketball program at Kansas.

James Naismith's original rules of basketball are about to have a permanent home.

Appropriately enough, right on Naismith Drive.

The University of Kansas plans to build an $18 million facility that connects to Allen Fieldhouse and will house the original two-page document on which, in 1891, Naismith outlined the 13 basic rules for what would become the game of basketball.

The three-story facility will be known as the DeBruce Center in honor of Paul and Katherine DeBruce, who donated the bulk of the private funding. Along with housing the rules, it will have dining and meeting spaces available for students, faculty and visitors.

Construction is expected to begin later this year.

"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 students, faculty and visitors alike,'' Kansas athletic director Sheahon Zenger said Wednesday.

In 2010, Kansas alumnus David Booth purchased Naismith's original rules at an auction for $4.3 million, at the time the highest price ever paid for sports memorabilia.

Booth's intention was for the rules to reside at Kansas, where Naismith founded the school's basketball program in 1898 and then spent nine years as its coach. The story of Booth's purchase was detailed in an ESPN "30 for 30'' documentary, "There's No Place Like Home.''

The acquisition of the rules became the catalyst for a new building on campus.

"Our years on the Hill helped provide a foundation for each of us to be successful and give back to our community,'' said Paul DeBruce, who founded a grain company in the late 1970s.

"Part of that experience was academic,'' DeBruce said, "but a lot of it included the many friends we made there and the fond memories of attending basketball games at Allen Fieldhouse. We hope the new center will be a place on campus that students and faculty will want to come to and enjoy. It will be a meeting place for friends and a place to further honor KU traditions.''

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