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KU will build $18 million home for original Naismith rules

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at 7:12 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, April 17, 2013, at 7:35 p.m.

— The most valued document in sports — basketball’s original rules authored by James Naismith — will have a permanent home at the University of Kansas, the school announced Wednesday.

The two-page document will be displayed at a new three-story center to be connected to the northeast corner of Allen Fieldhouse. Construction of the building, which will cost $18 million, is expected to start later this year.

The bulk of the funding will come in a gift from Kansas alums Paul and Katherine DeBruce of Mission Hills. The 31,000-square foot building, which also will providing meeting and dining facilities for students, will be known as the DeBruce Center.

Paul DeBruce is CEO and founder of the DeBruce Grain Inc. 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 in a statement issued by the university. “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 past three years in Austin, Texas, where the Booths live.

The rules were in Naismith’s possession until he died in 1939 in Lawrence, and then 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 last year.

Now, the rules will return to the place where they spent nearly four decades, the time James Naismith spent as a Kansas professor.

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