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Embattled Coach McLoughlin Still Mum as Speculation Swirls

In the absence of official comments from the boys' basketball coach, principal, or athletic director, former players and parents are trying to fill in the blanks.

Three days used the public comment portion of the meeting to the replacement of boys’ basketball coach Joseph McLoughlin, the man himself remains silent on the issue.

Repeated attempts by Collingswood Patch to contact McLoughlin both directly and through intermediaries have been unsuccessful. Similarly, calls to (CHS) principal Ed Hill and athletic director Ron Hamrick have not been returned.

In the absence of answers, observers have been left to speculate about the rift between the 14-year coach and the administration that two years ago named him one of its teachers of the year.

The most nefarious accusations—that McLoughlin refused to comply with a secret order to recruit and play more white basketball players—were leveled by Collingswood resident Blackwell Albertson.

“Is this decision being made because Joe McLaughlin would not follow the directives of this administration that his basketball team does not reflect the complexion of the color of the skin of this town?” Albertson asked the board Tuesday night. “That’s discrimination.”

Another Collingswood resident, Mike Jackson, told the board, “I don’t know what’s going on in the background, but you need to reconsider because it’s a mistake if you proceed forward on the path that’s been set.”

David White, father of former CHS basketball standout Julian Welsh-White, says he believes McLoughlin’s recruitment of rec-league basketball players—most of whom were black—chafed administrators.

“I didn’t like the way the Collingswood boys' basketball team was treated by the principal and the athletic director,” White told Patch Thursday.

White said law enforcement officials are always visible at CHS basketball games, and the school strongly enforces a no-hats-no-hoods dress code. Although rival schools like Haddonfield blare rap music prior to games to motivate their players, White says he was told that the music played before CHS basketball games needed to be kept to a more reasonable volume.

“They didn’t want to play the music loud,” White said. “I had a word with Mr. Hill, and he said he did not want to project this kind of environment. Then he told me two weeks later that the PA system was malfunctioning. This is Collingswood. It’s not like you’re going to Woodrow Wilson (High School in Camden).”

White even went as far as to speculate that the motivation for McLoughlin’s departure could be related to an unhappy alumni booster—although he didn’t name any names.

In a district that distributes tens of thousands of dollars in scholarships, he says decision-makers may have been compelled to protect students financially.

“There might be someone in the community who’s seeing this so-called discoloration in the basketball team and said ‘if I don’t see enough Caucasians playing on the team in a couple of years than I’m going to pull my $10,000 contributions to the scholarships from this school’,” White said.

Julian Welsh-White said unequivocally that he never saw McLoughlin discourage or dissuade white players from trying out for the CHS boys’ basketball team. Time and again, he said, players with whom he’d shared the court in middle school opted out on their own because they believed they wouldn’t make the cut.

“The fact of the matter is that hardly any white players tried out,” Welsh-White said. “They didn’t give themselves the chance to make the team. They didn’t have the confidence to play and they just assumed they wouldn’t make it.”

But Superintendent Scott Oswald says that nothing related to the ethnic makeup of McLoughlin’s teams factored into the proposal to appoint a new coach.

“He knows what those issues are,” Oswald told Patch Thursday. “He can tell you what those issues are. He’s choosing not to.”

Oswald reinforced his position that the decision was his alone, and that he had met with the embattled coach and his teachers’ association representative to describe very specifically the reasons behind the move.

“If he had secret recordings, why in five years haven’t I heard them?” Oswald asked, referring to a comment by Albertson on Tuesday that McLoughlin has some sort of bombshell evidence that will substantiate the claims of discrimination.

“I have nothing against Joe, but with this mess, he’s lost my respect,” the superintendent said.

Porterincollingswood June 01, 2012 at 12:07 PM
If only Jimmy Chitwood would come back and play for the coach...this would all be settled.
Sean Andrew June 02, 2012 at 12:14 AM
"David White, father of former CHS basketball standout Julian Welsh-White, says he believes McLoughlin’s RECRUITMENT of rec-league basketball players—most of whom were black—chafed administrators." One word - RECRUITMENT. It doesn't matter what race.
GFY June 02, 2012 at 10:06 PM
How dumb are you? RECRUITMENT? The REC league is in Collingswood nitwit. Not recruiting out of town players. And at least he's interested in watching the young talent in town.
brett June 03, 2012 at 05:13 PM
i live in town. i have heard -- through what i'd consider good sources -- that the coach has recruited kids who live OUTSIDE of colls to play -- and then gets them to move here, often with non-family. i'd guess in some cases, some use addresses that are not their own. IF this is true, it is WRONG. taxpayers should not be footing high school cost for kids recruited from out of town.
GFY June 03, 2012 at 07:36 PM
First, schools don't allow students to attend based on address. They actually verify that they are living there. Second, what is the big draw Collingswood has to recruit kids? There are much largeer well know programs in the area. Collingswood is a small town with a group 2 program. Haddonfiled has had kids from Cherry Hill playing. Is that wrong also?
Sean Andrew June 03, 2012 at 08:11 PM
As a matter of fact it is.
colls alumni June 04, 2012 at 01:35 AM
"I have nothing against Joe, but with this mess, he’s lost my respect,” the superintendent said. Wow, Oswald has nothing against McLoughlin, yet he lost all his respect even though the man hasn't said a word on the matter? That makes sense. It didn't turn into a mess because of McLoughlin. It turned into a mess when they sneakily tried to get someone to replace him before he was even out. Or was it all the support that was shown for the coach at the board meeting last week on an hour's notice? I'm sure that was unexpected to the Board. Mr. Oswald has done nothing but come in and demand things and create drama since he got here. This stuff didn't happen when Bathurst was around.
Blue and gold June 04, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Na Na Na NA Hey Hey Hey Goodbyeeeeee...I heard the crowd singing that in Colls last game, I just didn't know it was for Big Joe. Colls Alumni you just don't understnad how hiring a high school coach works, this is not Division 1 basketball like how Joe thought it was when he went out on his recruiting visits to Parkside and North Camden. All the coaches for next year sports programs get nominated for approval by the school board in the May reading. This was not a "sneaky tactic" but a procedure that is followed. If Joe McLoughlin would have followed Procedure he still have his job. So if anyone believes or thinks that this has to do with white or black its time look in the mirror. If you read one of the article's closely Dr. Oswald said he brought Joe in weeks ago to tell the coach that he was going in a diffrent diirection. Coach McLoughlin is not being FIRED cause of wins and losses in that he is the winningest coach in Collingswood boys basketball history but for his lack of Discipline and Recruiting OUT of district kids (Just cause they find a home in collingswood for 1 year does not mean they were not recruited to come to colls for ATHLETIC ADVANTAGE). So everyone move on it is high school sports kids will come out for the team, Collingswood basketball will still have games come this winter (with a NEW coach), and Coach McLoughlin will get another job some where and build another good basketball program. Go Blue and Gold
Chameira June 04, 2012 at 07:53 PM
I am a Former student of CHS and I happened to be there scorekeeper for the 2009-2010 school year I have not ever seen coach be in any way shape or form discriminatory towards white students coach put the strong players on the court whether they were white black Hispanic or Asian if they were string team members they were on the team. Most of the players loved basketball and for some it could have been the only thing that kept them out of any trouble coach would allow anyone to join there were a majority of non Caucasian males in my senior class who decided to play barely any Caucasians tried out. That is not coachs fault he was an awesome coach and a strong leader he does not deserve this negative critisism.
CBW June 07, 2012 at 01:30 PM
Amen to that. Bathurst was a good man, a good superintendent and he got things done without making them a public spectacle.
Mike King June 26, 2012 at 02:46 AM
I'm a teacher in Camden - home of Woodrow Wilson High. Instead of focusing on how the recruitment of basketball players does or does not reflect your demographics, maybe you should look at the recruitment of public school administrators (such as the superintendent), and membership on the BOE. Do they reflect your demographics?
jz gal June 26, 2012 at 09:37 PM
there is no truth to your comment; it this was true it would have been made public by the super and board PRIOR to the circus coming to town. how embarrassing and shameful for anyone who voted yes and is behind this shameful action. Coach Joe is being used as a pawn for some larger; future scam...

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