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Going out with the Coliseum

Posted May 21, 2015
Reprinted from InterCom (pdf)
Story and photo by Hannah Jeffrey, senior mass communications major

In 1985, Bon Jovi took to the Carolina Coliseum stage. In 1977, Strom Thurmond watched Elvis Presley play the Carolina Coliseum. And in 1968, Jim Haney was a teaching assistant, checking to make sure everyone in reporting class had carbon in their typewriters. 

It's been 47 years since the Coliseum opened its doors in 1968, welcoming basketball fans and journalism students alike. The team took the court upstairs, while reporters in their formative years ate up tips on how to interview and format quotes down below. 

Haney was in that first class in 1968 that made the move from Legare on the Horseshoe — where Haney said the classrooms were much too cramped — to the Coliseum. Back then, moving off the Horseshoe was a step up, especially when you were headed to a shiny new basement of a basketball arena. 

"In the 60s, the Horseshoe wasn't really a prestigious address," he said. "It was just old." 

Legare wasn't cutting it anymore. It was cramped, old and far too small for the growing journalism school — they'd outgrown it. 

Thus triggered the school's move to the Coliseum, a building built for basketball and used for just about everything else. 

It was the quality of the instruction, not the physical trappings that were important.... Jim Haney

Not much has changed since those days, Haney said. The Carolina Reporter newsroom has stayed in the same room since the beginning. Reporting was taught in 3012. Take out the computers and replace them with typewriters, and you'd think you were back in 1968. There weren't any windows then and there sure aren't any now. 

Haney's office, tucked away down one of the Coliseum's infamous winding hallways, used to be the journalism school library, he said. He was shown to his office in the early 2000s, where he found a desk and a computer — everything he needed to work. 

If you ask Haney, the building had little to do with the students' learning experience. The teaching was the important part. 

"It was the quality of the instruction, not the physical trappings that were important over the past — how many years has it been? Let me do the arithmetic," Haney said, grabbing a sticky note and doing some quick subtraction. "That's 47 years, which is a long time ... It's time to move on." 

The journalism school will return to the Horseshoe in the fall when it moves into the former health sciences building. Haney hasn't been over yet and he doesn't think he will before he retires at the end of the spring semester. He never decorated his office because anything you bring in, "you have to take back out some day," he said. 

After all, he's never been too sentimental about his surroundings and certainly not about the Coliseum, a building he calls a "sensory deprivation chamber." 

"I think I'll go out with the Coliseum," he said. "A lot of parallels." 

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.