Thursday, June 6, 2013

Self foundation donates millions toward city rec center

KU coach visits with Wiggins in Canada

The proposed site plan for the Rock Chalk Park Sports Complex in northwest Lawrence.

The proposed site plan for the Rock Chalk Park Sports Complex in northwest Lawrence.


Bill Self in the spring of 2008 started talking about the need for a recreational campus in Lawrence “to provide kids with a new and safe place to play and learn how to live healthy lives: to participate in organized sports, practice wellness and develop healthy habits.”

Five years later — thanks in part to a Bill and Cindy Self Assists Foundation donation of $2 million — a proposed 181,000-square foot recreation center at Rock Chalk Park has become a reality.

Construction is expected to begin soon on the center, which will include eight gyms, a fitness center, indoor turf and other amenities.

The facility will be adjacent to Rock Chalk Park’s track, soccer and softball stadiums to be used by Kansas University athletic teams. However, it should be noted the Assists donation is for the city rec center only.

“It’s something we’ve been trying to do for years. We made a pledge two years ago that if this would get done, Assists would give $1 million toward the project,” KU basketball coach Self told the Journal-World in a Wednesday interview in Allen Fieldhouse.

“Certainly it’s taken its fair time. We know that in a community where things have to run through the city and everything, it’s common to take awhile. It’s finally come to reality. We bumped our donation from $1 to $2 million because we believe in this. We are so excited. The vision we had initially was great. This is going to be so much better.”

Self told the J-W that the $24.5 million project, “will serve our city so well because now kids have a place to go. Now they can go play ball. Now families can go be more active. It’s not just about basketball. It’s about being active. Those basketball courts become volleyball courts. There’s a lot of different things that can be utilized. It’s going to be a first-class facility, and it’ll hopefully attract outside organizations here that will do wonders for our community over time as far as hotels, restaurant business and all that kind of stuff.

“Cindy (Self’s wife) and I believe in it. The Assists Foundation ... our contributors believe in it. We wanted to give money to be part of the erecting of buildings to add to the opportunities for youth to have a healthy and more active lifestyle. That has been done.”

Self can envision his foundation contributing further dollars to local wellness projects in the future.

“Our vision is to have more recreational facilities in our town which would promote a serious wellness aspect of it that would better serve our youth and provide a healthier lifestyle for our kids to grow up in,” Self said. “I still think we need to build more baseball fields. We don’t have enough baseball fields. We don’t have enough softball fields. We don’t have enough of a lot of things that communities we’ve lived in the past ... all of them have had. We went from being well behind to maybe being ahead with a chance to hopefully do more as the future years come,” Self added.

Tornado relief: Self did not wish to discuss specifics but confirmed that he and Cindy have contributed to Oklahoma tornado relief and will be doing more in the future. Self and his wife both hail from Oklahoma and have family there. None of their family members were injured or sustained property damage.

“It’s so sad what has taken place,” Self said of the recent tornadoes. “People in Kansas understand that it’s so unpredictable in how these things happen. It’s not like three to four days out you know exactly where it will hit. These things bounce all over the place, change directions. Leaving one spot to go to a safer place at another spot isn’t necessarily always safer.”

Wiggins update: KU coach Self and assistant Kurtis Townsend traveled to Toronto on Sunday to visit with Andrew Wiggins, the top-rated prospect in the country who recently signed with KU.

“We went to see Andrew and his entire family. We had a great talk,” Self said of a three-hour dinner at Wiggins’ house. “He’s really excited (to be a Jayhawk). His schedule is super-busy right now because he’s being pulled in all directions to do a lot of things. He’s been away from home basically two years (attending Huntington Prep in West Virginia). He’d like to spend some time at home. He’s been home a week.”

Wiggins will likely be playing for one or two Canadian national teams this summer.

“They are working out all details with the national team, how much of a time commitment,” Self said. The Under 19 world championship is June 27 to July 7 in Prague. The FIBA World Cup qualifying tourney for the senior national team is Aug. 30 to Sept. 11 in Venezuela.

“In a perfect world, they’d like about nine weeks straight of commitment, something like that. He doesn’t want to do that. That makes for an awful long year when you spend your whole summer in a competitive deal. It’s what they are talking about and trying to work out.”

Self has said he’ll support whatever decision Wiggins makes in regards to his summer as long as “he’s getting better.”

Director’s job open: Self, who has one opening on his staff, is in no hurry to name a director of basketball operations. Assistant director Brennan Bechard has everything under control entering two weeks of basketball camp. Former director of basketball operations Doc Sadler recently headed to Iowa State to be assistant coach.

“I would like to get something done in the next week or so. I have numerous options,” Self said.

NBA talk: Former KU guard Ben McLemore worked out for the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday. The Suns pick fifth in the June 27 NBA Draft.

“They’ve seen spurts of what I can do and I can take over games and I know deep down inside that I can take over games,” he said, addressing one issue that has him falling in some mock drafts. “I have that dog in me to take over games. At the same time, I’m building my confidence even more and just going out there and playing my game, working hard and getting my work in.”

Former KU guard Elijah Johnson worked out for Washington Wizards, who have a pair of second-round picks (38, 54).


Benz Junque 9 years, 3 months ago

Maybe the Founation can make a donation to the University of Kansas towards building a decent football stadium. Their current one at the very least could use a good power washing and a coat of paint. The last time I drove past it, it looked like it could be a location shoot for the tv show "Revolution". Nasty.

jaybate 9 years, 3 months ago

Dang! If The Assists Foundation had bought the Naismith Rules, Cin would have already had the rules on display in a righteous development!!!!!!

Was it Margaret Thatcher that said:

If you want to talk about doing something, get a man. But if you want something done, get a woman.

Go, Cin, go!!!!!!

kusayzone 9 years, 3 months ago

I am curious...what did you have for dinner Bill? Eh?

Andy Godwin 9 years, 3 months ago

I hope Wiggins decides not to spend so much time away from KU this summer. International competition is great and he should be proud to represent Canada, but not coming to Lawrence will likely effect his development as a KU Jayhawk teammate. Working out with teammates and building a bond over the summer is important in the overall process and will be essential for this very young team. Being a bit selfish, I hope he decides limit his international play. There is a great chance for burnout. We have seen that with NBA players who played in the Olympics.

Jack Wilson 9 years, 3 months ago


"Self has said he’ll support whatever decision Wiggins makes in regards to his summer as long as 'he’s getting better.' " -- I'm sure that would be the case for Conner Frankamp.

Ah, the compromises we make for OADs.

If Wiggins isn't here all summer and well into September, and is doing whatever he wants, that doesn't make the KU basketball team better. Playing on an international team doesn't make Wiggins "better" for his KU basketball season, and learning this system, and getting to know his teammates, and acclimating to KU hoops.

Hopefully he'll just play in the U19 deal which gets done July 9. That doesn't seem to be a huge problem. But playing in the senior qualifier is a huge commitment, which goes well into September. That would not be good for KU basketball.

Don't get me wrong. I have always believed that you do NOT treat players equally as a coach on everything. Kind of Jimmy Johnson's philosophy. Better players get more rope in certain areas. My only issue is when it is a presumed OAD and the baggage there. A guy who, as he sits right now, is only in it mentally for a season of basketball.

I continue to question whether, in the final analysis, the OAD drama is worth it - recruiting time and effort, team chemistry, expectations, results, player development, impact in future seasons (opportunity costs), etc. My standard is perhaps an unfair one on "worth it" -- a national title. We won't have that answer until next April. But I'm interested in the entire dynamic as mentioned above. And my mind is open to change after this experiment.

If Wiggins gets to campus and is part of the team, skips the seniors deal that runs into early September, that is a very good sign. Certainly hoping for that. Regardless of my preference against presumed OADs, it will be fun to see the guy in a Kansas uniform (which is a consideration as well).

Dirk Medema 9 years, 3 months ago

Fortunately, he has already played with several of the others in the class.

It also is not uncommon for players to go away for extended periods to "Lebron" camps and national teams. Playing against the best comp makes players better.

It definitely would be preferred for a new player to be around his new teammates, but most players aren't coming from 2 years away from family at prep school either and practicing/playing the best in the world.

One of Coach Self's great strengths is knowing how to push and prod players into achieving more than they can imagine. Definitely have him with understanding all the psychology of developing the team.

Benz Junque 9 years, 3 months ago

For cryi8ng out loud, there have been a NUMBER of KU athletes that have spent their summer playing basketball in other areas besides Lawrence. This is a mindlessly stupid argument brought about SOLELY to cry about OAD players. NO ONE griped when Withey went to play for Athletes in Action. NO ONE griped when Collins chose to spend the majority of the summer before his senior year sitting on his porch in Chicago eating ice cream. NO ONE griped when various players played for USA Basketball in various summer events.

Get off of it, people. The kid is playing basketball against elite competition. If you think that hanging out at the dorms is more valuable then you have lost it. If you think he is more prone to burnout because he is playing a few weeks of basketball then you are nuts. Guess what he did all last summer? Played in a zilluion AAU basketball tourneys all over the country. It didn't seem to lead to any burnout.

Team bonding doesn't take months. They're college kids with a common interest. By the end of Boot Camp, they'll all be as bonded as they need to be. Stop trying to make news where there isn't any. I know it's a slow time for college basketball, but don't be drama queens.

David Leathers 9 years, 3 months ago

I hate to agree because your tone is so disgusting, but I have no choice. Self's boot camp will bring all the kids together in a way no summer activity could.

I think the issue here is that if the recruits show up to campus early in the summer, Self and his assistants get up to 2 hours a week giving them instruction and workout plans. Not only that, but the effects of being Hudy-ized for a few months could help the whole team tremendously.

BringBackMark 9 years, 3 months ago

Big difference is Withey, Collins, etc., were already here and I'm sure it was suggested by Coach Self that they gain that experience. This is quite a different situation. And yes, your tone is disgusting.

Joe Baker 9 years, 3 months ago

He'll have plenty of time during the preseason. As has been pointed out, he's played with Embiid, Selden, and Greene. I'm sure he's played a bit with Frankamp and Mason too. He will fit right in with Tharpe and Ellis. These kids seem to have a great chemistry already. They'll be fine. It's all in their attitude.

Jack Wilson 9 years, 3 months ago

So, for those that disagree with akgjenkintown, why does coach Self have the freshmen get to school early in the summer? It's not for his health. There are very good reasons to have the new guys get in early.

And remember, this discussion is for the freshmen. Not the vets. Freshmen. And it is laughable to compare an AAU situation to a D-I college situation. It's a different ballgame.

If all that was necessary to bond a team, to get them in a position to understand what coach Self wants, to get them prepared for the upcoming season -- was to show up at boot camp, that's what coach Self would have them do. And if anyone thinks all they do is hang out in dorm rooms, as mentioned, then they simply don't have an understanding of what goes on.

Lots of coach/player contact, lots of informal scrimmaging, lots of workouts with Hudy, lots of brain work, lots of hanging out together -- and they take summer class or two to help lighten their in season load a bit.

But I'm not saying it can't be done another way, or that it won't work without him being there. Rush showed up late, right (because he signed late)? It's just better the way Self has freshmen do it. And we're making an exception for Wiggins.

RockChalk26 9 years, 3 months ago

I'm probably in the minority on this one.....

Wiggins can represent Canada every 4 years just like Lebron and Durant represent the USA. He needs to get his butt to Larryville asap.

Robert Brock 9 years, 3 months ago

By the way, what does the DBO actually do? What are his responsibilities and limitations?

Dirk Medema 9 years, 3 months ago

Can't coach. Manages all the logistics of camps, practices, travel, ... I think even the non-player contact part of recruiting falls under the position.

Benz Junque 9 years, 3 months ago

He makes sure that the team hotel has Diet Cokes in Self's hotel room when they travel to road games... He basically coordinates all the random junk needed to keep the KU basketball machine well oiled, especially when they travel.

Tony Bandle 9 years, 3 months ago

As an architect, I have worked with city planning boards, planning commissions and any number of various zoning and community development entities.


Also, a 3 million dollar bust in the cost estimate for a 25 million dollar project for something as basic as infra-structure and utilities is a GIANT RED FLAG!!

Folks, don't be surprised down the line when this project's budget explodes....after 40 plus years of experience, I'm just sayin'!!

bad_dog 9 years, 3 months ago

I'm sure they'll use the extra 3 mill from this project to pay those taxes.....

Dirk Medema 9 years, 3 months ago

Just a few years of managing public infrastructure projects says this picture isn't particularly different than any number of other successful projects.

Multiple phases of the project.

First phase is well under budget.

Second phase is sole sourced to avoid multiple contractors working on the same site and conflicting with each other.

Contractor makes up gaps in cost by construction change orders.

You can spin it as a "bust", but reading the description of the process also reveals that the extra $3M includes $ that weren't included in the original estimate, and all the costs were within normal construction costs. That being said, it will be interesting to find out what the construction change orders total. On $25M, the work should have several $M built into the contract (10% min).

bad_dog 9 years, 3 months ago

Gee, one can only wonder why those estimates didn't include hundreds of thousands for landscaping and retaining walls, and....

Let's not even get started on the no-bid aspects of this "deal".

Suzi Marshall 9 years, 3 months ago

I'm with you on this. I've been doing EPC (Engineer, Procure, Construct) projects for Chemical and Hydrocarbon Process Operations for nearly 40 years. It's not clear to me where the earlier estimate missed. Typically, we put a +/- 30 % before doing "construction release" design/engineering. At that point the price is +/- 5% when awarded for construction. The $3MM miss overall means they missed the early "infrastructure" estimate by ....50%....? There are so many details it's tough to make an outside judgement. . Self has always shown the highest integrity and excellent judgement. However, if tax dollars are to be used, the city does owe a through disclosure of finances to the taxpayers. We can not allow local government to think they can conduct themselves like the Feds.

BringBackMark 9 years, 3 months ago

You think there might be a problem.....

  1. The City guarantees payment of $25 million based on very preliminary estimates.

  2. The City doesn't even get a price on the no-bid portion until the other bids are in.

3, There's no cost sharing agreement between KU and the City for infrastructure so if the bids do come in low on the building the City picks up 100 of these costs.

Instead of a problem I think we have a huge case of malfeasance.

What Engineering firm did the design work for the infrastructure improvements? They were certainly under contract well before the City gave final approval of the project or there still wouldn't be any construction taking place. Was that just another "blank check" agreement by the City?

Every taxpayer in this City should be mad as hell. If this is how a very visible project is handled by the City think what is going on behind the scenes. No wonder our taxes and utilities are skyrocketing, population is stagnating, and the job market is pathetic.

This project stunk from the initial concept. The location is silly both for KU and the City. It was apparent this was a handout to Fritzell. If KU had some reason to bail him out of his other financial problems that's one thing, but when a Municipality pulls this crap it's quite another.

John Strayer 9 years, 3 months ago

Regarding Ben’s don’t…I kind of which we would have seen some of the “pooch” last March. I think the critic of his game is spot on. His body of work at KU is great…but it is spotted with a coach doing everything in his power to coax him to be aggressive when the team needed something to happen. And this happened in front of the world on TV and NBA scouts in person. There has to be some bit of “doubt” in their minds if they are going to spend millions of dollars.

KEITHMILES05 9 years, 3 months ago

It has become rather obvious Assist Foundation favors only Lawrence and KC projects. Too bad they don't branch out into other parts of the state. As much as I like the Selfs I will not give any longer to this foundation with such limited and biased giving to only those locales.

Brak 9 years, 3 months ago

I think the comment about Ben falling in the draft is just crazy, if you are going to make the statement, " addressing one issue that has him falling in some mock drafts", you should back it up. EVERY single mock draft has Ben going #2 behind Noel. Plus they didn't even publish the whole interview where he talked about working out for Phoenix even though NOBODY thinks he will drop that far. While most kids wouldn't even bother to work out for teams they don't think they will go to Ben said that he will work out for anybody because that's just the kind of guy he is.

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