Dunbar principal Charlotte Brown began interviewing candidates Saturday to replace basketball coach Paul Smith, whom she dismissed in May after perhaps his most rewarding of three seasons at the school.
Smith's Poets teams compiled a 69-10 record and won three state championships. His overall record is 329-169 over 22 seasons, including a stint at McDonogh in Owings Mills. Smith did not return a phone call yesterday.
Ollie Matson, a junior varsity coach at Randallstown, confirmed that he was one of five men who have been interviewed for the job. Matson said the others are Southern of Baltimore coach Meredith Smith, Douglass coach Lynn Badham, former Dunbar and Maryland standout Ernie Graham and Dunbar junior-varsity coach Kevin Parsons.
A timetable for the naming of the new coach is not known. Brown, expected to return from vacation on Monday, could not be reached, and a phone call to athletic director Gail Robinson was not returned.
The firing of Smith, whose program had been the city's most successful since Baltimore City schools joined the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association four years ago, comes after he coached a team that had just one one returning starter to the Poets' fourth straight state crown -- Smith's third.
It also came one month after Smith was honored as a Black Living Legend by the Academy of Arts and Letters at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
Last season, Dunbar didn't have nearly the talent of past teams. The team's only returning starter was Tommy Polley (now on football scholarship at Florida State), and a freshman (Tim Lyles) started at point guard.
Dunbar got off to a 4-4 start, but the Poets won 17 of their final 19 games, defeating Lake Clifton and Southern, ranked No. 1 in the area at the time, to win the city's East League title. The Poets defeated Southwestern for the city championship.
Meredith Smith, whose son, Atman, played for Paul Smith, would not comment.
Former Dunbar coach Bob Wade, who is in line to become director of interscholastic sports for the city schools, also would not comment.
Matson said Brown and Dunbar football coach Stanley Mitchell were on the interview panel. A source close to the situation identified the other members as alumni association president Edwin Johnson, school counselor Sandy Walker and senior basketball player Chris Dean.
Asked if the panel gave a reason for Smith's removal, Matson said: "They felt the kids weren't achieving [academically]. They were playing for four years and not being able to get into college. The school was kind of embarrassed by that."
Paul Smith spent his first two seasons at Dunbar as interim coach, while the school investigated charges that former coach Pete Pompey had misused athletic funds. The city school board eventually transferred Pompey to Edmondson.
Pub Date: 8/16/96
Smith at Dunbar
Year .. .. ..W-L .. .. .. ..Result
1993-94 .. .23-3 .. .. ..2A champs
1994-95 .. .25-1 .. .. .2A champs
1995-96 .. .21-6 .. .. ..3A champs
Overall ...69-10 .. 3 state titles