Bishop Ahr High School basketball coach fired just shy of 600 wins

Kevin Harper was the girls' basketball coach at Bishop Ahr for about 30 years. He says that he was fired because he did not win enough championships.

Kevin Harper was the girls' basketball coach at Bishop Ahr for about 30 years. He says that he was fired because he did not win enough championships. (5/13/16)

EDISON - A high school basketball coach is now looking for a new coaching gig after he was fired just a few wins shy of 600 for his career.

Kevin Harper was the girls’ basketball coach at Bishop Ahr, a private catholic school in Edison for nearly 30 years. He says that he loved coaching at the school so much that he is even leaving the program a few thousand dollars in his will.

"I loved my years at Bishop Ahr,” he says. “I have always prided myself on being part of that family.”

However, even with 597 wins under his belt, Harper was recently fired. He says that it was because he didn’t win enough championships.

“In [the principal’s] mind, championships equate to students. More championships she wins, there were going to be more students that want to come in the building.”

Harper’s coaching average is about 17 wins and 8 loses a season. He’s won two county titles, but no state titles.

Bob Hurley is the high school basketball coach at St. Anthony High School in Jersey City. Hurley has won 27 state championships and is one of only three high school basketball coaches to be in the Basketball Hall of Fame. 

He says that the emphasis on trophies and winning championships is twisting the mission of high school sports. 

"We think that what we do is help to steer these kids through four years of adolescents,” he says.

Many of Harper’s current and former players say that they are shocked by his firing. Brianna Strahm graduated from Bishop Ahr three years ago.  She says that Harper helped her develop skills on and off the court.

“When I was younger, all I did was go to the Bishop Ahr camps and I wanted to play for [Harper],” he says.

Bishop Ahr now has a new coach for the girls’ basketball team. Harper says that even thought he was fired, he will still keep the team in his will.

News 12 New Jersey reached out to Bishop Ahr Principal Sister Donna Marie Trukowski for comment, but she did not return those calls.

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