Illinois will play host to Kansas in a charity exhibition basketball game on Oct. 29 at State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois, that will raise money for the ongoing relief efforts after the tragic wildfires in Maui, Hawaii. The preseason game was set to be a closed scrimmage between the two programs but it will now be open to the public for fans to attend.
The confirmed death toll from the wildfires has surpassed 100, according to CBS News, with more than 1,000 people unaccounted for as of earlier this week. The disaster has destroyed more than 2,200 structures.
“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 coach Bill Self said in a release announcing the event. “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.”
Self will be returning to the sidelines for the first time since the end of the 2022-23 regular season after missing the Big 12 and NCAA Tournament due to health issues. Kansas assistant coach Norm Roberts served as the acting head coach and the Jayhawks fell to Arkansas in the second round to end their season.
Self has been the coach at Kansas since 2003 but previously spent three seasons as the coach at Illinois before he was hired by the Jayhawks.
“It is heartbreaking to see the loss of life and devastation from the fires that have ravaged Lahaina,” Underwood said in another release. “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.”
Kansas enters the season as one of the top preseason teams in the country. The Jayhawks added former Michigan star Hunter Dickinson via the transfer portal and return Dajuan Harris, Kevin McCullar and KJ Adams Jr. As for Illinois, they return one of the oldest rosters in the country, including veteran starters Coleman Hawkins and Terrence Shannon Jr. from a team that finished 20-13 and reached the NCAA Tournament.