McLaughlin claims that Oswald was influenced by Athletic Director Ronald Hamrick and former Athletic Director Edward Hill, who he claims had a racially-motivated vendetta against him.
However, Edward Borden Jr., of Earp Cohn P.C. decided that while there was a strained relationship between McLoughlin and Hill and Hamrick, neither Hill or Hamrick influenced Oswald’s decision, nor was the decision racially motivated.
He made the determination in a report dated June 27, 2013,
and released to Patch Tuesday night.
The school district initially filed a lawsuit against Patch and The Retrospect to prevent them from obtaining a copy of the report, which is attached to this story. That suit, filed when Matt Skoufalos was the Local Editor for Collingswood Patch, has been resolved.
Instead, Oswald’s decision to dismiss McLoughlin appeared to be based on
McLoughlin’s performance as coach, which included:
* the ongoing drama involving
McLauglin, Hill and Hamrick;
* an unusually high turnover rate for his
* a failure to properly discipline players;
* using a player in
both the junior varsity and varsity games in one day in 2012, in violation of
NJSIAA rules, which ultimately resulted in Collingswood forfeiting the game; and
* Collingswood's last place finish in the area of sportsmanship in the Colonial Conference following the 2011-12 season.
In 2011, McLaughlin met with Oswald and told him Hill and Hamrick were out to “get him” in a meeting that lasted over four hours. While Hill and Hamrick were always involved in McLoughlin’s annual evaluations, Oswald decided to perform the evaluation following the 2011-12 season himself.
Following McLoughlin’s dismissal, McLoughlin and other members of the community began claiming he was dismissed for racial reasons. McLoughlin is white, but claims he was treated unfairly because he played “too many black players.”
The school board called on Borden, who specializes in white-collar criminal defense and is a former Camden County prosecutor, to investigate the case.
Borden obtained written documents and conducted about 20 hours of interviews with current and former school administrators.
According to Borden, McLoughlin and his attorney continued to delay speaking with him until the investigation was nearly complete. When they did finally speak, McLoughlin refused to allow the interview to be recorded.
According to Borden's investigation:
McLoughlin was the coach from 1998-2012. When he became coach, Hill was the Athletic Director.
Borden determined that a 1999 conversation between McLoughlin and Hill in which McLoughlin claimed Hill told him the basketball team was “too dark,” despite Collingswood being a “white high school” did happen.
Following this conversation, McLoughlin claims Hill, who initially gave him a glowing endorsement, became negative toward him and began to seek his removal.
In 1999, 2000 and 2001, Hill called for McLaughlin to be removed, but his efforts were derailed by the Collingswood Education Association each time.
However, in 2003, 2005, 2008 and 2009, Hill gave McLoughlin the highest possible numerical evaluation possible. Hill filled out the 2009 evaluation for Hamrick, who was then the Athletic Director, replacing Hill, who had become principal.
No record exists for McLoughlin’s evaluations for 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2007 are missing, and the school district has no explanation. All evaluations were obtained from the school district, as McLoughlin refused to turn his copies of the evaluations over to Borden
McLoughlin claims Hill continued to make racist remarks, but there is no evidence of this in McLoughlin’s handwritten notes and he never reported it to the school district’s administration.
McLoughlin told the investigator that he was up for the Retrospect newspaper’s “Coach of the Year” award in 2003, but Hill contacted the editor of the paper and stated that McLoughlin’s selection might “cast a bad light.” McLoughlin had been ejected from two games that season. Ultimately, McLoughlin was not chosen to receive the honor.
Hamrick became Athletic Director in 2009. McLoughlin claims to have had a conversation similar to the one with Hill in 1999 about the racial makeup of the team, but Borden has no indication that this is true.