Coach Hurley’s thoughts on St. Anthony High School closing at end of school year

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JERSEY CITY – St. Anthony High School, a fixture in downtown Jersey City since 1952 and known nationally for having the premier basketball program in the nation, will close at the end of the current school year in June, school officials announced Wednesday afternoon.
The school’s administrators, spearheaded by legendary Naismith Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Hurley, met with the hierarchy of the Archdiocese of Newark Wednesday afternoon to discuss the school’s financial plight. For the past three years, Hurley has served also as the school’s president.
Back in September, the Board of Trustees at the school announced that it would need an endowment of anywhere between $10 million and $20 million to remain open in the future. That number seemed to be nothing more than a pipe dream.
But Hurley then said in October that the school needed to raise approximately $1.5 million to operate for the 2017-18 scholastic school year. Vigorous fundraising took place since, but the writing was on the wall over the last few weeks, when Hurley admitted that the school was about $330,000 shy of the initial goal.
It was just last week that Hurley told The Hudson Reporter that he was concerned about the school’s future.
“The numbers are so large and we’re not moving away from that,” Hurley said. “The length of time we’ve spent doing this [fundraising] and this time, I’m concerned that I didn’t sound too pathetic. I don’t think I did so. But I know the school is important to the kids. It’s just gotten to the point where people are just tired of this story. I think people are tired of hearing about it. When is enough enough?”
The most recognized aspect of the tiny Roman Catholic high school on Eighth Street has been its basketball program, run since 1972 by Hurley.
Over the years, the fabulous Friars won more than 1,100 games and lost only 109 under Hurley’s tutelage. They also won a record 28 NJSIAA state championships, 13 NJSIAA Tournament of Champions titles and four mythical national crowns (1989, 1996, 2008 and 2011). Eight of Hurley’s teams finished seasons with undefeated records.
Hurley gained induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2010.
Some of the players that Hurley produced eventually played in the NBA, like David Rivers, Bobby Hurley (the coach’s son), Terry Dehere, Rodrick Rhodes, Roshown McLeod, Tyshawn Taylor and Kyle Anderson (currently with the San Antonio Spurs).
Hurley worked tirelessly over the past year, trying to raise the funds to keep the school open. But the coach and school president wondered what would have happened even if a miracle kept the school open.
“What happens next year?” Hurley said. “Do we have to do this every year? Catholic schools just can’t sustain themselves. I don’t want to start fresh next year and go through it all again. We can only get through this year. What happens next year?”
It is no longer a concern, as Hurley and the rest of the staff try to figure out where the school’s 160 or so returning students will head in the fall. – Jim Hague