LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — The Border War is back, only this time it’s for charity.
Bitter rivals Kansas and Missouri have agreed to play an exhibition men’s basketball game at the Sprint Center in Kansas City on Oct. 22 to raise money for hurricane relief efforts.
News of the game began to leak Thursday, but it wasn’t until the NCAA granted a waiver for the Jayhawks and Tigers to meet that it was announced on Friday. Each school will distribute about half of the 18,000 tickets with the goal to raise more than $1 million for charity.
The game will not be televised but both schools’ radio networks will broadcast it.
“That was the best time for everything to come together to create a situation where we encountered the fewest amount of expenses,” Kansas coach Bill Self said, “and certainly I think it’s a great opportunity for two schools to, you know, do something together for the better of the masses.”
Kansas and Missouri met for the first time in 1906, then played another 266 times in one of the most hotly contested series in college basketball. The schools have not played each other since 2012, when the Tigers bolted the Big 12 for the Southeastern Conference.
At the time, the move put the future of the Big 12 in jeopardy, and Self vowed that he wouldn’t play the Tigers again. He made it clear Friday that his stance hasn’t changed when it comes to a regular-season meeting, though the charitable component made this situation unique.
“This is not a regular-season game,” he said, “but there is enough interest in that you can get 19,000 people in the building and raise a bunch of money for a worthwhile cause.”
Money raised from the game will go to the organizations that the five living former U.S. presidents have come together to support: the Houston Harvey Relief Fund, the Rebuild Texas Fund, the Florida Disaster Fund, Juntos y Unidos Por Puerto Rico and the Fund for the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“The opportunity to use the platform of college basketball to help so many people in need is the most important aspect of this event,” said first-year Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin. “Buy tickets to this game, but also please donate if you are able to, as there are people in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who need our support.”
Even though it’s merely an exhibition, there is plenty of intrigue surrounding the Border War.
The Jayhawks are led by Devonte Graham and blue-chip freshman Billy Preston, and should once again be the team to beat in the Big 12. The Tigers counter with one of the nation’s top freshmen classes led by the No. 1 overall recruit, Michael Porter Jr.
“The byproduct of playing the game is it could possibly help both teams. The actual reason we’re playing doesn’t have anything to do with it,” said Self, who first thought of playing an exhibition game for charity in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.
Hurricane Harvey revived the idea, and it’s taken about a month for the NCAA to grant a waiver for the contest. Other disasters have occurred in the meantime, including hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“We’re not going to be the only ones to do something like this,” Self said, “but I think we’ll be the most publicized ones to do it.”
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