COLLINGSWOOD, N.J. – Former Collingswood High School boys’ basketball coach Joe McLoughlin and the borough’s Board of Education have settled a 2013 lawsuit for $250,000.
McLoughlin, the winningest coach in Collingswood basketball history and still a teacher in the district, filed the suit a year after the Board of Education voted against renewing his contract after 14 years as the Panthers’ coach.
The suit alleged that McLoughlin was let go “as a direct result of his objections to racist practices and acts,” and named Collingswood High School Principal Edward Hill, Athletic Director Ronald Hamrick and Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Oswald as defendants.
“Mr. McLoughlin feels vindicated,” said his attorney, Charles Nugent, on Monday. “It’s resolved now, and everyone is happy with the resolution.”
Perhaps not everyone.
Reached for comment Monday, Oswald called the settlement, signed Sept. 25, “less about truth and more about money.”
“When this whole thing began, my name was run through the mill,” he added. “And I never really got a chance to have my say in any of it.
“I know what I did was absolutely the right thing.”
Nugent, after reading Gannett partner The Courier-Post’s report online Tuesday afternoon, called Oswald’s comments “disingenuous,” noting the Board of Education approved the settlement at its most recent meeting.
In 2012, Oswald recommended not rehiring McLoughlin, saying at the time, “I am the person who is solely responsible for changing the direction based on personal experience and my observations.”
According to McLoughlin’s suit, however, the coach was removed “without providing a reason.”
The lawsuit claimed the coach “opposed the practices and acts suggested and encouraged by the defendants, by refusing to use race as a determinative factor in whether or not (to) play a member of the basketball team, by objection to the use of racial slurs in referring to minorities and (by) supporting minority students who sought to qualify to play on the team at various meetings and hearings.”
The suit further claimed Hill and Hamrick made negative comments about black players on McLoughlin’s team and stated the coach was questioned in 1999 by Hill, then the athletic director, about why he and his coaching staff “catered to the black athletes.”
The suit also alleged Hill commented about the “makeup” of the squad, that “white kids” didn’t want to try out and needed more representation on the team, and that Collingswood was a “white school.”
“That decision had absolutely nothing to do with the race of the players on the team or the court,” Oswald told the Courier-Post in 2012 after the board’s vote not to renew McLoughlin’s contract. “Race played no role in the decision.”