Hi, I'm Bill Self, head coach of the University of Kansas men's basketball team. When our team won the NCAA Championship in 2008, it was one of the greatest days of our lives. We were and still are so thankful that our fine university and our outstanding basketball team were publicly rewarded for their dedication and hard work.
Unfortunately, every year dozens of unheralded mid-major teams don't get to experience that joy. Lack of access to quality recruits, anemic athletic budgets and small media markets all serve to deny these poor mid-majors their day in the sun. For most such schools, simply making it past the play-in round is a victory. Their dream of playing in a Final Four is just that: a dream.
But at the University of Kansas, we're committed to making that dream come true. Having experienced the ultimate success, we now dedicate ourselves to ensuring that underprivileged mid-majors are given the same opportunities to succeed through the KU Make-A-Swish Foundation.
Each year, the University of Kansas will select one talented but unheralded mid-major in our bracket who we think best exemplifies the Make-A-Swish Foundation ethos. Through a combination of poor free-throw shooting, excessive fouling and dumb turnovers, we will do everything in our power to help these young men advance in the tournament.
I'd like you to meet a friend of mine, Joey Rodriguez of Virginia Commonwealth University. VCU barely made it into the tournament, coming in as a play-in. There were no "Yeah baby"'s from Dick Vitale for Joey. No love from ESPN. Doug Gottlieb never even bothered to call him the worst human being in the world. This was Joey before playing Kansas:
And this is Joey after playing Kansas:
Having beaten Kansas and advanced to the Final Four, Joey is now a vibrant, happy young man. And Joey's not the only young man who has undergone that transformation. Ali Farokhmanesh, Kevin Bettencourt, Marcellus Sommerville. These are just some of the young men whose lives the Make-A-Swish Foundation have changed. But there are so many underprivileged mid-majors, and so few bracket slots.
In order for these mid-majors to advance and have a chance at their dream, they must have the chance to play the Kansas Jayhawks, and that means we need to continue to make it into the tourney every year. That's where you can help. Your donation of $5000 to the Make-A-Swish Foundation (formerly the Williams Fund) will help ensure that the University of Kansas basketball team can continue to be kicked out of the tourney by lower-seeded teams year in and year out. Think about it: for just the price of a cup of coffee once per day for the next 10 years, you can help the next Joey Rodriguez fulfill his dream. Won't you help?
*Donations made to the Make-A-Swish Foundation are non-refundable and are not tax deductible. Donating to the Make-A-Swish Foundation does not guarantee improved seating at Allen Fieldhouse but will likely earn you a spot on the football team.