The Story of the DeBruce Center

Original rendering of the DeBruce Center - Credit: Gould Evans Architects

A Meeting Place to Honor KU Traditions

The DeBruce Center is named in recognition of a lead gift from Paul DeBruce and the DeBruce Foundation. The foundation’s director, Paul DeBruce, of Mission Hills, Kansas, graduated from KU in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

“We are so grateful for the generosity and vision of Paul DeBruce and the DeBruce Foundation. This beautiful facility will ensure that for many years Kansas Basketball will continue to maintain the same standard of excellence it has set for the past 100 years,” said KU Head Men’s Basketball Coach Bill Self.

“My years on the Hill helped provide a foundation to be successful and give back to the community,” said Paul DeBruce. “Part of that experience was academic, but a lot of it included the many friends we made there and the fond memories of attending 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 honor KU traditions.”

Five years after graduating from KU’s School of Business in 1973, Paul DeBruce founded DeBruce Grain, Inc., and served as Chairman and CEO until the company was sold in 2010. For more than three decades, Mr. DeBruce led a team of more than 600 dedicated employees that built DeBruce Grain into an international, industry-leading agricultural and grain-trading firm. In 1989, Mr. DeBruce established The DeBruce Foundation, which works to expand opportunities for individuals and to act as a catalyst for innovative projects that solve problems faced by our community and our country.

When Dr. James Naismith’s Original Rules of "Basket Ball" went up for auction in 2010 at Sotheby’s auction house in New York City, KU alumnus David Booth was determined to bring them home to the University of Kansas. KU is where Naismith lived for over half his life, where he saw the game of basketball mature into one of the most popular international sports, where he died and was laid to rest.

Rather than displaying the original rules in the Booth Hall of Athletics in Allen Fieldhouse, the decision was made to create a new facility—one that would serve not only as a shrine to the rules, but as a gathering place for the extended KU community. Paul DeBruce gave the lead gift for the 22 million dollar facility, and Kansas City-based architectural firm Gould Evans (now Multistudio) took on the project. The following is an excerpt about the DeBruce Center taken from Gould Evans' portfolio:

The design endeavors to create an experience far greater than these two sheets of paper. The story of the rules and the subsequent development of the game are arranged along a linear path that provides a three-dimensional experience of the evolution of basketball. This path is woven into every programmatic element, including a 200-seat student dining commons, an athletic training table for men’s and women’s basketball, a café, and a 60-seat restaurant, allowing the story of basketball to unfold at multiple scales and to multiple audiences.” 

The DeBruce Center opened in late April of 2016. Its highlights include the Rules GalleryThe Courtside Café, and several other exhibits and amenities that make it a welcome destination for the Jayhawk Nation.

Watch: The construction of the Rules exhibit.

Video courtesy of