FARRELL, Pa. (WKBN) – A week ago, a group of people appeared before the Farrell School Board demanding that all references to the late legendary basketball coach Ed McCluskey be removed.
They allege McCluskey was abusive, and no one at the meeting spoke in favor of the coach.
On Tuesday, former player and former coach Al Campman said McCluskey’s legacy should remain.
Campman is a retired Ellwood City teacher and ex-head basketball coach who’s now the Ellwood City assistant tennis coach.
“Yeah it’s a lot of fun,” he said.
Campman was also part of the ’72 Farrell team that won a state championship — the last of seven under Coach McCluskey.
“They’ve already tarnished his name, that’s the sad part. The name’s tarnished, but I don’t want them to destroy his name,” Campman said. “But it’s not over, by no stretch of the imagination.”
At last week’s Farrell School Board meeting, another former McCluskey player, Brian Sanders, asked the board to eliminate everything McCluskey, including his name on the gymnasium.
Campman says he likes Sanders.
“No, I love the person. I don’t like what he’s doing,” he said.
First News asked Campman if he ever saw Coach McCluskey hit someone over the head with a clipboard.
“He didn’t carry a clipboard. Never used a clipboard. I seen him kick, I seen him push, I seen him put hands on people and I said we didn’t think anything of it,” Campman said.
Campman says if McCluskey was doing something illegal, the police, children’s services, someone would have been called in. But they never were.
“Corporal punishment at that time, paddling was thought of as an everyday thing. Hands-on by teachers and coaches was thought of as an everyday thing,” he said.
Campman says McCluskey demanded punctuality — do not be late — all the players must treat people with respect, and he never swore.
“All’s I know, we had a state championship team and they all came out and played. They didn’t say we’re not going to play for him. They were all excited to play for him,” Campman said.
Campman admits McCluskey’s ways would not be tolerated today, but times were different then — and what McCluskey did right should not be forgotten.
“He did more things great in one day than he did for a lifetime for me and many of the basketball players,” he said.
Campman went on to have a successful 25-year basketball coaching career at Ellwood City. He says he never punched anyone, but he was a yeller and screamer.
Campman supports the effort to have McCluskey inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame, and he says he would want his kids and grandkids to coached by him.