wvu field house

March 3, 1970; West Virginia playing Pitt in the last game at the Field House

With the upcoming demolition of Stansbury Hall, a chapter of the story of West Virginia University men’s basketball will come to a close.

For 41 seasons, the Field House (as it was known at the time) was the home venue of the Mountaineers. From the foundation laid by the teams that played there, the West Virginia men’s basketball program grew to the prominence and prestige it’s known for today.

The Field House saw many great games and players. From old-time Mountain State legend Marshall “Sleepy” Glenn to the 1942 NIT champions to Hot Rod Hundley to Jerry West to Rod Thorn to the first-ever integrated basketball team in school history, the Field House saw it all.

“If I go back in my memory, I thought it was the greatest place in the world,” IMG color commentator and former WVU guard Jay Jacobs said. “It probably would seat 5,800 if you really got people in. On the Monongahela River side was all bleachers. That’s where most of the people with money would sit and they were just bleachers, you didn’t have the theatre back seats.”

Bob Smith, who played for the Mountaineers between 1956 and 1959 and later played with Hundley and West with the Los Angeles Lakers has a different opinion of the Field House.

“The Field House itself, my golly was it outdated,” Smith said. “You couldn’t probably get any player to Morgantown, West Virginia and play for the Mountaineers if they had to play in that cracker box. You didn’t’ have room to step out of bounds to take out the ball. Back in those days, we had to sit underneath the basket. We couldn’t sit on the sidelines because the fans needed those seats.”

All the while, Jacobs still holds the hometown love for the arena.

“Nothing was really comfortable in there, except the fact it was the Field House,” Jacobs added. “It was really exciting and I grew up in Morgantown. My dad owned a clothing store and he was taking me to West Virginia games as early as I can remember.”

The Field House was the premier basketball arena in the state until the Charleston Civic Center was constructed in 1959. Soon after, the Mountaineers started hosting their premier basketball games in Charleston, including WVU’s 94-90 upset win over top-ranked Duke in 1966, and students became infuriated.

To add insult to injury, most high-profile teams were not willing to schedule a trip to Morgantown to play in a facility that outdated. By the Field House’s last season, WVU hosted mostly rivals and ineffective basketball teams like Hawaii and Detroit.

Also, a down turn in recruiting due to the facility led the charge for the Coliseum to be built and would open in December of 1970.

The Field House re-opened as an academic building in 1973, renamed Stansbury Hall, and has held the Philosophy department as well as the Army and Air Force ROTC facilities.

Stansbury Hall is scheduled to be demolished later this year to make room for the new College of Business and Economics.

Former Sports Editor

In addition to being a sports writer for the DA, John is a freelance reporter for the Associated Press and the Dominion Post. John is also a writer and editor at the Smoking Musket (WVU's SB Nation community).