KOKOMO, Ind. —The friendship between Dr. Richard Lasbury and Cliff Hunt began with a shared love for Indiana University basketball.
The two recall both attending IU Bloomington in 1953, and the excitement of attending basketball games there. Both have become IU Kokomo sports fans and have supported the programs with scholarships funds, while also funding student travel programs.
When IU Kokomo announced plans to build the Student Activities and Events Center (SAEC), Lasbury and his wife, Betty, knew they wanted to support it — and that their gift should honor their friend. When the SAEC opened in fall 2020, it included a men’s basketball coach’s office named for Hunt.
“Cliff has done a lot for IU Kokomo,” Richard Lasbury said. “He was the first basketball coach, and he’s important to the campus. I’m happy we did it.”
Hunt called the honor “overwhelming and surprising,” but appreciates it.
“I have a long history at IU Kokomo, and I even took some classes there when the campus was at the Seiberling Mansion, in 1952,” he said. “I wanted to lay a base for IU Kokomo to compete in the NAIA. I think I placed a foundation for that to happen.”
Hunt coached the IU Kokomo Knights from 1981 to 1991, starting the team as a club sport, and growing it to play against other schools. The campus’s athletic programs, now branded as the Cougars, earned NAIA membership in 2013.
He hopes to see the stands packed with student fans when games can go on without COVID-19 restrictions. “This is something IU Kokomo has needed, and I’m proud to be part of it,” Hunt said. “I could never have imagined it when I was borrowing gym space for games from elementary schools and the Armory.”
Lasbury said he drove by regularly during construction to watch progress, and is happy with the finished center. “IU Kokomo’s growth is amazing,” he said. “It used to be just one building, and now look at it. It’s a real campus.”