Former Collingswood High School boys' basketball coach Joe McLoughlin has reached a $250,000 settlement with the school district to dismiss his lawsuit that claimed he had not been retained because of his refusal to play more white athletes.
The Collingswood School Board approved the $250,000 payment to McLoughlin at its Oct. 26 board meeting, attorney Charles Nugent confirmed on Tuesday.
"Joe absolutely feels vindicated," said Nugent, who represented McLoughlin.
McLoughlin is Collingswood's all-time leader in coaching victories in boys' basketball. His teams were 235-130 from 1999-2011.
His teams made the South Jersey Group 2 finals five times and won the crown in 2008 and 2010.
McLoughlin filed suit against the Collingswood school district in August, 2013. He claimed he had not been rehired as coach because he resisted pressure from administrators to change the racial makeup of his team to include more white players.
McLoughlin's teams were predominantly African American.
The suit claimed McLoughlin was fired "as a direct result of his objections to racist practices and acts."
Said Nugent: "Joe stood up for people. That's the only reason he was fired."
The suit named Collingswood superintendent Dr. Scott Oswald, principal Edward Hill and athletic director Ron Hamrick as defendants along with the board of education and school district.
McLoughlin remains a special-education teacher in the Collingswood district.
Nugent, who along with Katherine Hartman represented McLoughlin through a lengthy legal process, referred to a comment made by Oswald in the wake of the settlement as "offensive."
Oswald told the Courier-Post newspaper that the settlement was "less about truth and more about money."
Nugent said: "People don't pay money unless they want to keep the truth from coming out. We believe money was paid to keep the truth from coming out."
Collingswood agreed to pay McLoughlin $250,000 to drop the lawsuit and to agree not to pursue any head coaching position within the school district in the future.
At the board meeting, district officials stipulated that the agreement "does not constitute an admission of liability."
The agreement states the intent of the settlement is to "avoid further litigation and buy its peace."
The $250,000 is covered by litigation insurance, the Retrospect newspaper reported.
"Everybody that knew Joe McLoughlin supported him on this," Nugent said. "His players, parents, everybody that knew everything that he did. We believe the evidence supported Joe's position but he made a decision that it was in his best interest, his family's best interest and his players' best interest to settle this case."
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