Defenders of Joe McLoughlin Dominate Board Meeting, Allege Racism

A move to replace the long-time coach was condemned by parents and former players, who flooded the public comment portion of the meeting with testimonials.

In an evening that had been set aside for the recognition of Collingswood Teachers of the Year and the achievements of their students, the Board of Education instead heard a succession of testimonials in defense of boys' high school basketball coach Joseph McLoughlin.

After the awards were presented, supporters of McLoughlin appeared in droves to condemn an agenda item that would have replaced the long-term basketball coach.

The first and most inflammatory remarks were made by Collingswood resident Blackwell Albertson, the father of a developmentally disabled student who served as a water boy to the Panther basketball team.

Albertson alleged explicitly that McLoughlin was to be dismissed because he "would not follow the directives of this administration that his basketball team should reflect the complexion of the color of the skin of this town."

When asked to elaborate on what he meant in an interview after the meeting, he clarified, "Caucasian," and added, "the coach has it documented. It's on tape."

(Through Albertson, Collingswood Patch invited McLoughlin to confirm the existence of any such tapes, but did not receive an immediate response.)

"Racism is alive and well in the administration of ," Albertson later told news cameras from NBC-10. "It angers me mightily."

After Albertson's remarks, someone removed the microphone he had used for the public comment session. It was not replaced until Morris Smith, a Collingswood parent and attorney, asked that it be returned and re-activated.

Smith spoke later in the public comment session, imploring the board to reconsider its decision.

"Our staff may or may not know of all the repercussions that come with this," he said. Smith added that his own high school athletic director "at a rival high school" apologized to him as an adult, confessing that he had been directed in the 1970s "to keep kids from Lawnside off the team."

"It’s easy to take racial questions and concerns about racial issues and say that’s not really what it is," Smith said. "It’s important that you ask the hard questions."

After the meeting, Superintendent Scott Oswald said that he was sympathetic to the outpouring of support for McLoughlin, but he called the allegations of bias "disappointing."

"I find it interesting that this is an issue with basketball, when all these kids play all other sports," he said. "I have not heard [these allegations of racism] before tonight, until his position was threatened."

Oswald, who described the coach as "a great guy," and reminded reporters that McLoughlin was also a teacher of the year in 2010, said "I don't even think Joe would deny that I was his No. 1 fan."

In the end, however, Oswald said that the responsibility for making the choice not to re-hire McLoughlin came from no other authority than himself. Asked whether the decision was performance-related, Oswald said, "His win-loss record "is meaningless to me."

"My recommendation is based on what I witnessed," Oswald said, adding that he had "enough concerns" about McLaughlin's "handling of situations," that he notified the coach of his intentions to move on last Wednesday.

Eventually the agenda item was tabled for future discussion, at which time board President James Hatzell publicly backed his superintendent's play.

"First and foremost, as board members, we should not be getting involved in the day-to-day operations of making decisions," Hatzell said.

"I personally, and the board as a whole, generally places great weight in Dr. Oswald's recommendations, and this is a rarity, to be quite honest with you," he said.

"We'll put a great effort over the next month into getting the right decision here, and I don't know what that will be."


Did you or your kids play for Joseph McLoughlin? Contact Matt Skoufalos at matt.skoufalos@patch.com to share your story.

Parent June 05, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Enough of this bigotry from people like you.I will not stand for this and have seen it for many years.'Just tell them Joe" says exactly what I have seen and heard all these years.Not only are you degrading players, Coach Mcl but you are attacking our families who are proud of our children and others have accomplished as a member of the basketball team.When people like you don't want to face the truth you make up LIES.I can name many players besides the ones you mentioned who received scholarships because of their abilities, brains and Coach Mcl's help.I have spent so many years watching him help kids when they were in some of the worst situations.It has nothing to do with basketball but the real job of an educator.Yes to help kids.Your question.Name a game where they won as a underdog. We beat Cinnaminson in 2008 who was #1 in SJ.I could name many others but dont have to prove my point.People like you disgust me cause you make up LIES to avoid the TRUTH. Your comment about Darnell McCargo tells exactly how you are a bigot.He is one of the nicest young men that I have ever met and you sarcastically say his 4th school which isn't TRUE. He is in school bettering himself and you look to tear him down.Why degrade a young man who represented our team,school and community in an great manner?Last year alone there were over 8 kids that were playing college basketball.I hear what you are about loud and clear and will not stand for it anymore.
J June 07, 2012 at 01:34 PM
here we go again blacks its always race collingswood high going to hell needs to be fix i think all sports need to be cut from school until all grades are up "o" i'm sorry maybe we keep basketball we don't what to be in a race to call AL AND JACKSON ON ME
Monko June 07, 2012 at 01:46 PM
GFY June 07, 2012 at 02:36 PM
Damn, J! Did you just fall down on your keyboard? There's not even a complete sentence there. You may be suffering a mild stroke.
Colls teacher June 22, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Colls Bball 2004 you are a liar. Maybe you are J. Look at the yearbooks from 2000 - 2004 You are not there!!


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »