FARRELL, Pa. (WKBN) – The Farrell School Board Monday evening took under advisement — but did not act on — a request to remove the name of a legendary basketball coach from the high school gymnasium.
The coach was the late Ed McCluskey. The board was told of how McCluskey allegedly beat and berated players — and they should not be honoring this kind of man.
About 40 people attended Monday evening’s Farrell school board meeting to discuss removing visible legacies of former Head Basketball Coach Ed McCluskey — such as the name attached to the school’s gymnasium and the shrine in his honor in the adjoining lobby.
“Coach McCluskey was a great guy as far as X’s and O’s concerned, but in my opinion, he was a very poor human being,” said Brian Sanders, Sr., of Farrell’s class of ’77.
Sanders played for McCluskey and led the effort at Monday’s meeting.
McCluskey coached Farrell for 29 years from 1948 to 1977, winning seven state championships, but Sanders cited incidents where McCluskey hit players in the head with clipboards and used the n-word.
Sanders says it was brought up now because former Sharon Herald editor Jim Raykie wants McCluskey in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.
“I told Raykie, leave this alone. You open up old wounds. There’s guys still hurt, like my cousin,” Sanders said.
Sander’s cousin Richard Chambers had his Ed McCluskey story.
“He’d sit there and beat me. He kicked me. Then, he had the audacity to sit there, a man telling a kid, that momma and daddy don’t want you. That’s what he did to me. He degraded me,” Chambers said.
“But let me tell you, if we don’t do something about this now, we run the risk of normalizing abuse. We run the risk of people not having a voice and kids and other people coming forward about abuse that’s happening to them,” said Jasyntah Mockabee who was at the meeting.
No one spoke in favor of Coach McCluskey — though School Board President Terry Harrison says they have heard from McCluskey supporters.
“As a board, we’re not just getting your side. We’re getting other sides of the coin as well,” Harrison said.
In the end, the lawyer for the Farrell School Board cited a new state law that requires all resolutions being voted on to be made public at least 24 hours beforehand.
Harrison said the Board would look at it and bring it up again at its October meeting.