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Remembering the ‘priceless good times’ with J.V. Haney, who has died at 89

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J.V. Haney became renowned on each side of the sports aisle — first as a participant and then as a media figure.

Longtime friend and broadcast associate Don King reported on Wednesday that Haney, after battling various health issues, died earlier that day — two weeks after his 89th birthday.

After his retirement from high school coaching, Jerome Vance Haney became a fixture on various Tulsa radio and television platforms. In addition to having co-hosted sports-talk shows with Bill Land and partnered with King on Cox cable’s presentation of hundreds of live events, Haney was the University of Tulsa’s football sideline reporter in 1994-2003 and the Golden Hurricane’s basketball analyst in 1994-2006.

“He was my colleague, my friend and in many ways my mentor,” longtime TU play-by-play voice Bruce Howard said of Haney. “He was a reminder that what we were covering was just a game, and his positivity was infectious. People may not remember what a good coach he was. It also made him a good analyst. He helped me see and understand the game.

“I would be spitting about an early 12-5 (basketball) deficit at the first commercial break, and he would comment, ‘No, we’re all right. (The opponent) won’t continue to shoot 7-of-7 from the field for the rest of the game, and TU is getting good shots.’ Sure enough, by halftime, Tulsa would have a 30-27 lead.”

Don Tomkalski, a TU senior associate athletic director and for nearly 40 years the school’s media-relations director, described Haney as “a legend and tremendous person.”

“He was so enjoyable and fun to be around, and such a kind-hearted person,” Tomkalski said. “He made you feel at ease, no matter the situation, and his stories and experiences are legendary.

“We have lost an outstanding ambassador for sports in the state of Oklahoma.”

Haney was a Big Cabin native whose senior class had only 12 students. He played baseball at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M in Miami, graduated from Northeastern State in Tahlequah and flourished during a 30-year career of coaching Tulsa-area high school basketball (313 career victories), football, golf and baseball.

With the Owasso basketball program in 1964, Haney was the Tulsa World Coach of the Year.

During the ’80s, King says, Haney was an influential force in compelling Cox and various local stations to televise Tulsa-area prep football and basketball games.

“We would do 50 events each school year — football basketball, softball and baseball,” King recalled. “In 1988-92, we did dirt-track racing shows together in Owasso. I did play-by-play and J.V. did interviews with drivers and owners in the pits. J.V. was great at everything he did in any sport.”

Inspired by the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, Haney once persuaded Cox to televise a dog show from the Tulsa State Fairgrounds. This show, however, was a competition of mixed-breed mutts. As King and Haney anchored the coverage; the champion mutt received a year’s supply of dog food.

At KRMG in 1981, Land got Haney involved in everyday radio. For several years, Land and Haney co-hosted the “Tulsa World of Sports” cable show.

“It’s really hard for me to express how much J.V. has meant to me and my family,” said Land, now the television voice of the San Antonio Spurs. “He greatly impacted not just my life but (wife) Gayle and (sons) Taylor and Cooper.

“J.V. was so much more than a partner of mine on radio and TV shows. I could go to him as if he was my father. Many times, I treated him like an older brother, and he was always the best friend that anyone could ever ask for.

“I don’t think you can measure the number of people’s lives that he impacted in a positive way. It’s a sad, sad day that is only made better by knowing he is truly in a better place and at peace.”

Haney sustained his relationship with Northeastern A&M. He served on the school’s Development Foundation board of directors, was a commencement speaker and in 2002-10 was the chair of the Puddin’ Haney Classic NEO Alumni Golf Tournament.

In addition to having been inducted into the NEO Hall of Fame, Haney in 2003 was inducted into the National High School Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame. At one time, he was the president of the Oklahoma Coaches Association.

Haney is survived by sons Mike and Pat. Haney’s wife, Kathy, died in 2021.

Howard described Haney as having been “an example of humble servanthood.”

“Not a month would go by without hearing about something J.V. did for someone else,” Howard said, “whether it was helping out an old coach or a former player, or organizing a charity golf tournament for some cause.

“The last few weeks and months, what he most often said was, ‘We sure had some fun.’ I won’t forget the priceless good times and the life lessons I learned from J.V. Haney.”

As Self’s switch from ORU to rival TU happened 25 years ago this month, it was fitting that he was back in Tulsa on July 25

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Sports Columnist

I joined the Tulsa World in 1990. Prior to becoming a sports columnist in 2016, I was the only sports writer in Tulsa World history to have covered OU, OSU, the University of Tulsa and Oral Roberts sports on an everyday basis. Phone: 918-581-8397

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