KU, Illinois to host charity basketball exhibition to benefit Maui

Kansas head coach Bill Self instructs his team in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against TCU, Monday, Feb. 20, 2023, in Fort Worth, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

With the island of Maui devastated by wildfires, and the town of Lahaina that hosts college basketball’s Maui Invitational acutely so, the Kansas men’s basketball team is doing its part to aid relief efforts.

KU Athletics announced Friday afternoon that the Jayhawks will travel to Champaign, Illinois, for a charity exhibition game against the University of Illinois at State Farm Center at 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. Proceeds from the matchup will be donated to the Hawai’i Community Foundation Maui Strong Fund.

The two schools were originally set to compete in a private scrimmage that was repurposed to become a charitable benefit, KU coach Bill Self said in a press release.

“The people of Maui have always made our stay (for the Maui Invitational) a lifelong highlight,” Self said. “This is a small way we can help a community that has been so good to so many for so long.”

Added Illinois coach Brad Underwood: “The Maui Invitational is an integral part of college basketball, and we are thinking of everyone on the island of Maui who have felt the impact of this tragedy. Bill and I talked immediately about how we could come together to help, and turning our closed scrimmage into a charity exhibition is a way we can use our sport to make an impact.”

According to its website, the Maui Strong Fund “will support evolving needs, including shelter, food, financial assistance, and other services as identified by our partners doing critical work on Maui.”

The Maui Invitational takes place at the Lahaina Civic Center, just outside the town of the same name that suffered particularly thorough destruction at the hands of the wildfires. The tournament posted on its social media feeds as the blazes were burning on Aug. 9 to state, “We are actively monitoring the situation on Maui” and promise further information in the future.

Self coached at Illinois for three seasons immediately before coming to KU in 2003. The two schools have split six matches all time, with KU winning the most recent installment on March 20, 2011 by a 73-59 score.

“The spotlight of this game, heightened by Bill’s return to Champaign,” Underwood said, “should raise meaningful dollars that will go directly help the community of Lahaina.”

KU has an exhibition against Fort Hays State in Lawrence three days later ahead of its Nov. 6 opener against North Carolina Central.


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