When David Booth shelled out $4.3 million to purchase James Naismith’s Original Rules of Basketball, the longtime Kansas donor made one request.
Booth said he would donate the two-page, typewritten document to the University Kansas, where Naismith taught and coached. But only if the school agreed to provide a new structure to display the artifact.
Two years after acquiring the Naismith’s Rules at an auction at Sotheby’s in New York, Booth’s vision is on the verge of becoming a reality.
Kansas officials announced this week that plans are underway to construct a new building to house the rules adjacent to the northeast corner of Allen Fieldhouse. Although the rules will be the main attraction, the building will also take on the feel of a student union, where athletes and faculty can gather for lunch or for meetings and get-togethers.
“It will be a place where people who are coming to games will tell their friends, ‘You have to see this,’” KU Endowment president Dale Seuferling told The Kansas City Star. “You’re going to Allen Fieldhouse and seeing the rules of basketball.”
Seuferling told The Star that funding for the project would come from private donations. The school hopes to select an architect within the next month.
Before they were purchased by Booth, the rules belonged to the family of Naismith, who invented the game in 1891. Naismith went 55-60 as Kansas’ head from from 1898-1907. He is buried in a cemetery in East Lawrence.
Naismith’s Rules might have never found their way back to Kansas if not for a passionate Jayhawk fan named Josh Swade. Upon reading about the Sotheby’s auction in the New York Times in 2010, Swade contacted Kansas’ most influential boosters and tried to solicit their help in bringing the rules to Lawrence.
Luckily, he found Booth.
A documentary on Swade’s mission, “There’s No Place Like Home,” will air on ESPN in October.