For fans of high school basketball, St. Anthony High School in Jersey City is something of a legend. The school has won 28 New Jersey state titles, and its students have gone on to become star players in college and the NBA. The head coach, Bob Hurley, was one of only three high school coaches inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
But there's a saying about what happens to all good things: They come to an end. St. Anthony High School is closing this month after 65 years in Jersey City, New Jersey.
"It's a big loss," correspondent Steve Kroft tells 60 Minutes Overtime. "The basketball prodigies will find another place to play, but they will be hard pressed to find another school that prepared them as well for life."
"There are lots of schools in the inner city that should probably be shut down. This was not one of them." Steve Kroft
Kroft profiled Coach Hurley for 60 Minutes in March 2011, as he was approaching 40 years in his position as basketball coach. At the time, the school was already under threat of closure because of its finances, but Kroft surmised that there was one reason the school managed to stay open.
"In some ways, St. Anthony is the Julliard of high school basketball, a place where the gifted and the promising enroll to learn the finer points of positioning, technique, ball movement, and endurance," Kroft said in his 2011 report.
Kroft described Hurley's basketball practices as "among the most grueling workouts in the country, at any level of the game." And then there was the contract Hurley required each young player to sign. At the time of the 60 Minutes report, the contract was a list of nineteen points, including rules for haircuts, jewelry and drug use.
"Coach Hurley's standards for excellence, hard work and effort permeated every nook and cranny of the creaky old place," Kroft says. "He would tell you that the school's biggest achievement was not the number of championships it won, but the incredible number of ordinary students who have graduated and gone to college."
In 2011, Hurley said that only two of his players -- in 39 years -- didn't go to college.
"We're extremely proud of that," Hurley told Kroft, "because we think that we've opened up doors in kids' lives that they didn't know that they could do. Their families certainly didn't know that they could do it, and it's because of education. It changes the direction of their life."
Hurley — who now serves as the school's president as well as boys' basketball coach — cited diminishing enrollment and financial obligations as the primary reasons behind the closing in a letter posted to the school's website in April.
"There are lots of schools in the inner city that should probably be shut down," says Kroft. "This was not one of them."