Basketball: Valore or Byrd could still get Camden job


By Phil Anastasia

If this was a basketball game, the contest would be headed to overtime.

Nothing has been decided in the complicated process of identifying Camden High School's basketball coach, and supporters of the top two candidates are hoping for a winning play in this extra period.

Former Cherry Hill East coach John Valore is believed to still be a contender for the job even though the Camden Board of Education voted down interim superintendent Reuben Mills' recommendation that Valore be named the new coach on Tuesday night.

And former Camden coach Cetshwayo Byrd remains determined to "keep fighting," to get back his old job, according to a source close to him, despite Board of Education president Kathryn Blackshear's insistence Tuesday night that Byrd would not be re-hired.

Camden board attorney Louis R. Lessig confirmed Wednesday that Mills can re-submit a recommendation for Valore at the next board meeting.

Mills might be inclined to make that move since the board voted 4-1, with two abstentions, in favor of making Valore the new coach on Tuesdayn night.

But since Valore would be a new appointment to the district, five votes -- a majority of the full board of nine members -- was needed for the recommendation to pass.

Two board members were absent on Tuesday night.

Mills on Wednesday indicated that the "entire process" was under review.

"There are several possibilities," Mills said. "This is a personnel matter so the only thing I can say is that I have to review all of it."

Valore is believed to have the support of Camden athletic director Mark Phillips as well as several former Camden star players.

Meanwhile, sources have confirmed that a high-ranking political figure in the city has asked Camden school officials to consider re-instating Byrd.

A 1988 Camden graduate, Byrd led Camden to the South Jersey Group 3 title in each of his first two seasons and energized a program that had fallen on hard times.

Byrd has been suspended for the 2013-14 season by Camden administrators for allowing an independent filmmaker access to the team during the 2011-12 season without board of education approval.

Byrd's supporters believe his suspension was too harsh of a punishment, especially since two of his immediate supervisors, Phillips and Camden High School principal James Thompson, appeared on the documentary.

Valore, former Camden star Vic Carstarphen and current Camden assistant Marcus Freeman are believed to have interviewed for the job with Mills and Phillips on May 17.

Carstarphen, a 1988 Camden graduate who played on two state championship teams and also played at Cincinnati and Temple, is not believed to be a viable candidate because he doesn't have a teaching certificate.

On Tuesday night, board member Brian Turner, who voted in favor of Valore, expressed frustration that perhaps South Jersey's most fabled athletic program would be without a coach at the start of summer workouts.

"We don't have a coach for our June 10 start-up," Turner said. "We have some work to do now in order to get these kids a well-seasoned coach."

Contact Phil Anastasia at Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.

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