The Kansas and Illinois men’s basketball teams are set to play a charity exhibition game benefiting relief efforts for the devastating Maui wildfires, the schools announced Friday.
The game, which had originally been planned as a closed scrimmage, will be played on Oct. 29 at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill., at noon Hawaii time. It will be televised nationally on the Big Ten Network.
Both the Jayhawks and Illini are frequent visitors to the Valley Isle as participants in the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. Kansas has made the trip seven times, the last coming in 2019 when the Jayhawks won their third Maui title. Illinois has played in the premier men’s college basketball tournament five times, most recently in 2018.
The Jayhawks are again in the field for this year’s Maui Invitational, which had been scheduled for Nov. 20-22 at the Lahaina Civic Center. Tournament officials have stated that they are focusing on the safety and well-being of its Maui ohana and first responders, and that they will share more information on the plans for the 2023 tournament as it becomes available.
“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,” Kansas head coach Bill Self said in a statement. “(Illinois head coach) Brad (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.
“This upcoming season will be the sixth time my teams have participated in this event,” Self added. “The people of Maui have always made our stay a lifelong highlight. This is a small way we can help a community that has been so good to so many for so long.”
The game has the added significance as being Self’s first game back in Champaign in 20 years. Self coached Illinois from 2000 to 2003, when he left for Kansas to take over for Roy Williams. He has since led the Jayhawks to two national championships (2008, 2022), four Final Fours and nine Big 12 titles.
“It is heartbreaking to see the loss of life and devastation from the fires that have ravaged Lahaina,” Underwood said in a statement. “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.
“The spotlight of this game, heightened by Bill’s return to Champaign, should raise meaningful dollars that will go directly to help the community of Lahaina.”