WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — 132 years ago, a Canadian had a problem.
He had left his position as Athletic Director of McGill University in Montreal to come to the United States to what is now known as Springfield College, in Massachusetts. He had come to the YMCA International Training School to be trained to be a Physical Director and after graduating, he was named a full-time faculty member.
Because New England winters tend to be harsh, the opportunity for outdoor activities is often limited. So, he was tasked by the head of Physical Education to come up with a brand-new game that could be played indoors by the students of the institution.
James Naismith would eventually come up with the 13 rules that would make up the original game he called Basket Ball. The game spread to YMCAs across the country and became a hit.
Naismith would go on to serve a variety of roles, including the first basketball coach for the University of Kansas. He wasn’t a particularly good coach, amassing a 55-60 record.
What is important though, is he coached the legendary Phog Allen. Allen, who coached KU Men’s basketball from 1919 to 1956, is considered the “Father of Basketball Coaching.”
The men Phog Allen coached went on to create their own coaching dynasties, all with ties to Kansas beyond their time at KU.
Dutch Lonborg would go on to coach at McPherson College, and Washburn College, before moving on to Northwestern, where he spent 23 years as head coach. Halstead native Adolph Rupp who was a reserve player under Allen, would go on to build the University of Kentucky’s basketball dynast, coaching for 42 years before being forced to retire.
Chanute native Ralph Miller would go on to coach at East High School in Wichita, moving on to coach at Wichita State, Iowa, and Oregon State, and amassing a .632 record before retiring in 1989. Emporia native Dean Smith would go on to build his dynasty at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
Smith’s assistant coaches over the years include Larry Brown, who coached the Jayhawks from 83-88. Brown took over the program from Ted Owen, who had run the program since 1964, when he took over for Dick Harp, who played ball and was assistant coach to Phog Allen. Harp was then Dean Smith’s assistant coach at North Carolina from 86-89.
Of course, former KU Head Coach Roy Williams was Smith’s assistant coach and would take over the North Carolina Tar Heel program himself after leaving KU in 2003. Bill Self took over the program. Self was an assistant coach for the Jayhawks under Larry Brown, who, as mentioned above, was a Dean Smith assistant.
If you look, you can find that every great college basketball dynasty can somehow be tied back to Kansas and to Phog Allen. Basketball isn’t just a Kansas institution, it’s a part of Kansas history as well.
You can see those original 13 rules for yourself if you’re willing to make the trip to Lawrence. KU Alumnus David Booth donated the original documents to the University.
They are on display in a special exhibit inside the basketball museum at the DeBruce Center on the campus of the University of Kansas.