Listen: Kansas professor discovers only known audio of James Naismith

Tuesday December 15th, 2015

A professor at the University of Kansas has discovered what is believed to be the only known audio of James Naismith, the inventor of basketball who died in 1939.

Dr. Michael J. Zogry, an associate professor of religious studies, found the short clip among the audio archives of radio station WOR-AM, a New York City based station, that were given to the Library of Congress.

In the clip, recorded less than nine months before his death, Naismith explains how he invented basketball while working at Springfield College in Massachusetts in order to give male students a physical outlet while they were stuck inside during a blizzard.

James Naismith Interview, 1939

Naismith famously organized the first game of basketball by nailing two peach baskets against the walls of a gym and instructing the players to try to shoot a soccer ball through them.

He was hired by Kansas in 1898 as chapel director, director of physical education and university physician. He was also the school’s first athletic director and basketball coach, serving in those roles from 1899 to 1907.

Kansas would go on to become one of the most successful programs in college basketball history, winning three national championships to date.

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