For the first time in 20 years, Bill Self will return to Champaign, Illinois, this time to help raise money for the victims of the Maui fires.
Self, who has not coached a game in Champaign since he left Illinois for Kansas in 2003, will lead the Jayhawks, No. 1 in ESPN’s Way-Too-Early Top 25 rankings, against the Fighting Illini, the schools announced on Friday.
The exhibition will be held at the State Farm Center on Oct. 29 and air on the Big Ten Network. The proceeds will go toward the Maui Strong Fund. The NCAA allows teams to play exhibitions for charity with a waiver.
The two schools had originally planned to hold a closed scrimmage before the season but decided to turn the event into a public exhibition to raise money for Maui, where wildfires burned in the city of Lahaina starting last week. Officials have confirmed at least 111 deaths with hundreds still missing as communication services have been disrupted across the island, according to ABC News.
Both Self and Illinois coach Brad Underwood have participated in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational, one of the premier holiday tournaments in college basketball, in recent years.
Kansas is set to play in the event this year, although tournament officials have said their plans for the event are uncertain as a result of the fires.
“For decades, the Maui Invitational and the city of Lahaina have been very important to college basketball and our thoughts and prayers go to that entire community as they recover from such a tragic event,” Self said in a statement. “[Underwood] and I discussed how our private scrimmage could become an exhibition game to raise money to benefit the so many affected by the recent catastrophic fires in Maui. We both felt this would be a great way for our programs to create awareness to help this cause.”
Caught up with an old friend today 🤳
— Illinois Men’s Basketball (@IlliniMBB) August 18, 2023
Self’s decision to leave Illinois 20 years ago was a significant domino that changed college basketball. Self, who has won two national titles at Kansas, accepted the job after Roy Williams left for North Carolina following his team’s loss in the 2003 national championship to Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse. Illinois then hired Bruce Weber, who led the program to the national title game in 2005.
This season, Self will guide a Kansas squad that returns key veterans, such as KJ Adams and Dajuan Harris, and adds Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, the No. 1 player in the portal per ESPN.
“Seeing this on the news, the devastation, if we can do our part to make things a little easier, I’m a big fan of that,” Underwood said in a video with Self. “This will be a great idea.”
Added Self: “It’s time for all of us to step up and do something for somebody else that’s done so much for us over the years.”