Huntington Prep, the state’s best basketball program, was recently removed from their partnership with St. Joseph’s Catholic School in Huntington, West Virginia. Despite a ten year successful relationship with Huntington Prep, new St. Joseph’s principal Carol Templeton decided to end it effectively immediately.
To be clear, Huntington Prep was a part of St. Joseph’s for over ten years and the players on the team went on to have incredibly successful careers on and off the court. Prep is consistently one of the top ten basketball programs in the nation and is home to the top high school level players in the world, including 2013 graduate Andrew Wiggins.
According to Prep’s coach Arkell Bruce, St. Joseph’s made over $1 million during this partnership and his team grade point average has always been over 3.0. There is simply no question that Huntington Prep was a successful part of the Huntington community.
To her credit, St. Joseph’s principal Carol Templeton reached out to The Voice to respond to our previous article about the Huntington Prep separation, saying, “Huntington Prep was contractually obligated to pay the tuition balance in July 2019. They have been in arrears since this date and are still in arrears today. Tuition issues have transpired nine months prior to COVID-19. Numerous attempts were made to collect tuition throughout the academic year. No payment plan was offered by the Huntington Prep Academy. Despite defaulting on their contract, all transcripts, diplomas, and educational records of the nine graduating Huntington Prep students were released before the statement was publically announced.”
Arkell Bruce said this simply isn’t true. Bruce said, “We do owe the school money. Sometimes payments are late because we receive tuition from families all around the world. Over the last ten years we’ve paid in full, paying out over a million dollars in that ten years. We paid over $65,000 this year and then COVID-19 hit. We were always going to pay them, but us having to pay in full before COVID hit is just a lie. We were out of school in March doing online classes the remainder of the year and still planned on paying them full tuition as we stated in an email to St. Joseph’s. I texted and emailed asking to meet but didn’t hear back from them. I then received a letter a few weeks later that St. Joseph’s was suing us for the remainder and kicking us out without as much as a phone call.”
In response to Templeton saying that transcripts, diplomas and educational records were released, Bruce said, “We met with Father Dean (the head of the school) this past week so that we could convince him to call her to release the transcripts. He did and that’s how we got our stuff. We’ve had college coaches trying to get them before and St. Joseph’s wouldn’t release them because Templeton said not to.”
In our previous article on this subject, race was discussed as a possible motive for the removal of Huntington Prep, but Templeton was adamant that that has nothing to do with it: “To insinuate that the separation is due to race is completely unfounded and shameful. As the principal of St. Joseph for almost twenty years, I can state confidently and accurately that I have been proud to lead a school community that embraces diversity in terms of race, color, ethnicities, creed, religion, and socioeconomic status. As a school, we do not turn families away should they seek the gift of a Catholic education. The word Catholic means universal; we are accepting of everyone.”
Templeton continued, “St. Joseph does have diversity amongst the faculty and staff. St. Joseph has teachers from Mexico, Spain, the Philippines, and I am from England. We have teachers of different nationalities, ethnicities, religions, and color. The St. Joseph School community is extremely diverse, with students from thirty-seven nationalities and every major religion of the world represented. The Huntington Prep students make up an exceedingly small percent of the school’s student body.”
Templeton’s explanation for the removal of Huntington Prep still does not make sense, financially or otherwise. During Sunday’s congregation, Father Dean reportedly told the church that the reason they cut Huntington Prep because of the team’s travel, which was never mentioned prior to Sunday. According to Bruce, his players always make sure that work was turned in on time, his team travels with a personal tutor and again, his team GPA is always above a 3.0.
“St. Joseph’s has enjoyed a good relationship with the Huntington Prep Academy over the years,” Templeton said in a release. “We have appreciated the excitement and attention they have provided the school. However, we are a Catholic School first and foremost, and we have to fulfill our mission of educating our students.”
It’s a baffling mystery as to why they were removed, but Huntington Prep is now left without a home. Coach Bruce said that Prep has already reached out to school’s in Huntington (where they would prefer to stay) and in Ohio. Whichever school ends up with Huntington Prep, they will be blessed with one of the best basketball programs in the country and fine young men that go through the program.