By Amie Sites | Pharos-Tribune
---- — After the 2013 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball National Championship, the floor of the court where the Final Four played out was acquired by Northwestern Mutual.
Offered to the University of Louisville after it beat the University of Michigan Wolverines in Atlanta, Ga., the floor is now being used to raise money for pediatric cancer.
Northwestern Mutual, a corporate partner of the NCAA, acquired the floor following the tournament and has turned it into souvenir pieces for University of Louisville fans, with proceeds going to Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville, according to a press release.
A 1977 Logansport High School graduate has had a hand in turning the floor cutouts into souvenirs. Bruce Pugh had head coach Rick Pitino sign the pieces. The coach signed 1,000 pieces for souvenirs.
This isn’t the first time Pugh has had a hand in this type of project. After the University of Kentucky defeated Kansas in the national basketball championship in 2012, pieces were turned into souvenirs with John Calipari’s signature, which raised more than $200,000 for children with cancer.
“As this year’s championship progressed, I thought to myself, ‘We might be doing this project again,’” Pugh said. “After University of Louisville won, we got the call that Northwestern Mutual was offered the floor again.”
Pugh, who is a print production manager, has been working with Doe Anderson Advertising in Louisville, Ky., for 16 years. With Northwestern Mutual, being a client of Doe Anderson, Pugh was given the opportunity to take on the souvenir project.
Pugh said they looked at what other universities have done in the past and then found people or companies who could assist in the project.
“It has been fun, exciting,” Pugh said. “I was actually with both coaches during the signings. They know it’s for a good cause.”
Pugh mentioned it has been a lot of work, noting the last project was estimated to take 280 hours — or seven work weeks.
Pugh said it has been worth it.
“All the fans are rabid,” Pugh said laughing. “It’s been an absolute joy.”
Northwestern Mutual donated the center court logo portion of the floor to the University of Louisville, which now hangs in the KFC Yum! Center. The rest of the floor was recently cut into various sizes and put up for sale this fall.
Prices of the souvenirs range. The engraved and signed pieces are 12 inches by 18 inches and are going for $500. A 12-inch-by-12-inch piece with the championship logo is selling for $200, and a plaque with a small piece of wood, about 6 inches by 2.5 inches, with the logo is selling for $100.
They went on sale in late September and have already brought in $120,000. The goal is to again raise $200,000.
Pugh said he is happy to have been a part of raising money for a “worthy cause.”
“There are challenges and deadlines when trying to do something that is totally different from what you usually do,” Pugh said. “Whether you’re a fan or not, with the money going toward charity, who can argue with that?”
Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or email@example.com. Follow her: @PharosAES.