A point guard during his days at Oklahoma State University, Bill Self is hoping to add to his assist totals this year and for many to come.
Self, Kansas University's men's basketball coach, has announced formation of his new ASSIST Foundation, whose mission is "to help provide young people access to better lives."
That is to be accomplished "by identifying areas of need and working with other community-based institutions to provide creative and lasting solutions."
Self's desire is to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars - the sky is the limit really - for organizations such as Boys and Girls Club, Salvation Army, Parks and Recreation, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, the school system, children's cancer research as well as any other areas in which youths are served.
Any groups wishing assistance are invited to write Joanie Stephens at KU's basketball office, the requests going to the ASSIST foundation's yet-to-be selected five-person board of directors.
"Certainly there are a lot of young kids out there and a lot of young families, and we need to make this the best place in Kansas to live, bar none," Self said.
He said he had wanted to start a foundation since coming to KU in 2003.
Offered the help of McLaren Sports Group of Texas, which indicated a willingness to take care of the paperwork, it's been full-speed-ahead for the foundation.
Tipoff is upcoming this weekend when Self will personally raise $80,000 (after expenses) from 10 fans who have pledged $10,000 apiece for the right to shadow Self from Friday through Sunday.
The weekend will be first-class ... the 10 individuals will be driven around town in limousines when they are not dining at Self's house, serving as honorary coaches at Friday's Late Night in the Phog, helping plan Saturday's practice and attending Saturday's KU-Oklahoma State football game and Sunday's Bulls-Sonics NBA exhibition.
"We had some people that were not even KU people who wanted to take part," Self said, amazed by the response.
He was unable to take on additional benefactors because it is a huge recruiting weekend and the opening of practice.
Self said "10 would be a stretch giving everybody the attention they deserve."
Self's preliminary plans to raise money include hosting a "gala" perhaps next summer, holding a fantasy camp for adults, writing a book and auctioning off items like Super Bowl tickets, World Series tickets or Academy Awards tickets.
"We are hoping for people to jump on board, maybe even corporations to jump on board to say, 'Hey that sounds like a good cause, let's jump in on that cause,' because numerous corporations allot so much money each year to go to different foundations. Maybe we can be involved in some of those as we continue to grow," said Self, who indicated his motivation was simple.
"My motivation is we (Self's family) have been so blessed. We have had so many good things happen to us in a short amount of time," Self said. "Basically in driving around town or seeing people that maybe haven't been dealt the same hand, dealing with serious day-to-day problems, I just feel it's our responsibility to try to help those who maybe haven't had the same opportunities my family has had."
His work is not unprecedented.
"Quin Snyder had a foundation," he said of the former Missouri coach. "Tubby Smith (Kentucky) has a foundation. Garth Brooks (singer) has one and has raised millions and millions of dollars. Ben Kirtland (KU associate AD/development) used to run the Jimmy V. Foundation for Cancer research. There's numerous things like that, a lot of things out there we can benefit. I think we can get to the point we could raise a few hundred thousand dollars, hopefully more, yearly. There are a lot of people who want to be involved."
Self said he realized individuals and companies sometimes were more apt to give when a high-profile figure, such as himself, was directly involved.
"Cindy (Self's wife) and myself have been thinking for a while what we can do to help our youth. She is involved on several boards. We are also involved in several local charities. We like what everybody is doing, but we were wondering if we could basically use our position to help raise money for the youth of our area," he explained.
"A big part of our foundation would be Cindy and myself personally doing things that would help assist in these other areas - not only relying on other people to do it, but try to spearhead it by us being actively involved as well. We are excited about taking part," he said.
"We're hoping this really takes off and makes a difference for the youth of our community."