St. Anthony High School, a New Jersey prep powerhouse that produced 28 boys’ basketball state championships and more than 200 NCAA players since its opening in 1952, will shut its doors at the end of this school year, the victim of declining enrollment and funding. The Archdiocese of Newark, which operated the school, met with school officials Wednesday to relay the news, NJ Advance Media’s Jeremy Schneider reports.
The Jersey City school — which was the subject of Adrian Wojnarowski’s 2006 bestseller, “The Miracle of St. Anthony” — had been coached by Hall of Famer Bob Hurley since 1972. Hurley’s two sons, Bobby and Dan, both played for St. Anthony before their college basketball careers and both now coach at the Division I level, Bobby at Arizona State and Dan at Rhode Island. A number of other NCAA and NBA standouts also played for St. Anthony’s, including Terry Dehere, Roshown McLeod and David Rivers.
Hurley appeared emotional Wednesday in announcing that the school would be closing.
Bob Hurley. Fighting back tears. pic.twitter.com/5dd70J1pfE
— Nick Meidanis (@NickMeidanis) April 5, 2017
The school’s Board of Trustees announced in September that it needed to raise between $10 million and $20 million to establish an endowment for the school or else face closure. Only 183 students were enrolled in grades 9 through 12 for this academic year as of September, down from 200 the previous year. The school charged $6,500 per year in tuition but needed $7,500 more per student to meet their educational needs.
Bob Hurley told Schneider in February that he was encouraged by the news that the school was taking registration for the 2017-18 school year and that he anticipated the school would remain open for at least one more year, provided it raise another $600,000. Last month, however, it was announced that the school had until April 5 to meet its fundraising goal, which apparently was not reached. According to a school statement, only 11 students had sought to enroll in the upcoming freshman class, leading to a projected overall enrollment of just 140. Ten years ago, that number was 263.
The school cited competition from charter schools as another reason for its declining enrollment.
“St. Anthony’s was successful in three key areas,” Hurley, also the school president, said in the statement. “We gave students, first and foremost, the gift of Catholic faith and values to serve them throughout their entire lives. We enabled urban students to graduate high school within four years. We gave them the tools to attain the goal of a good college education.
“Virtually every graduate of Saint Anthony has gone on to attend college — even those who were not athletes. My biggest disappointment over the closing of the school will be that, if the current students can’t attend another Catholic school, they will not be able to continue with these gifts.”
The Friars had eight undefeated seasons under Hurley, who was named USA Today national coach of the year three times and in 2010 became one of the few high school coaches to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
“We had a good run, huh?” he told reporters on Wednesday.