Marshall University made the right call when it recently chose to rename Jenkins Hall.
No question about it.
After all, the building’s namesake was Albert Gallatin Jenkins, a Cabell County native who was a Confederate general in the Civil War. Jenkins also was known to kidnap free African-Americans with the intention of selling them into slavery.
In these racially sensitive times, the building that houses Marshall’s College of Education and Professional Development simply could no longer bear that name.
So, yes indeed, it was the correct move.
Now, it’s time for Marshall University to make another right call.
The Education Building should be renamed after Ed Starling.
I certainly do.
It was November of 1970 and Marshall was reeling in the aftermath of the horrifically tragic airplane crash that killed most of the Thundering Herd’s football players, coaching staff and athletic administrators.
Who picked up the pieces? Who kept Marshall’s athletic department afloat during those turbulent, emotional days? Who kept everything together when it so very easily could have all fallen apart?
He stepped up.
Starling handled those trying times in his usual quiet, understated, calm fashion. He wasn’t an attention seeker. He just wanted to do his job while blending into the background.
He did that very well.
Goodness only knows what might have happened if Marshall hadn’t been fortunate enough to have Starling to step in when athletic director Charlie Kautz was killed in the crash.
Just a year earlier in 1969, Starling had joined the Marshall men’s basketball coaching staff as an assistant to Stewart Way. After that season, he switched to administration taking on the role of assistant athletic director.
It became a familiar role for Starling.
Before retiring in 1989 as associate athletic director, Starling served as assistant athletic director on three occasions and was the interim athletic director twice.
His contributions to Marshall University were invaluable.
In his honor, a Marshall student who is named “Male Athlete of the Year” receives the “Ed Starling Award.” Starling also was inducted into the Marshall Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992.
It’s not the only hall of fame he belongs to, either.
After starring in football and basketball at Liberty High School in Williamson, West Virginia, he was recruited to West Virginia State University to play football and basketball. Starling helped the Yellow Jackets to a pair of championships at the black college national tournaments in 1947 and 1948.
After graduating in 1951, Starling returned to Williamson and coached at both Liberty and Williamson High School.
Then, in 1969, he came to Marshall and it changed his life.
It also changed Marshall — for the better.
Starling was a wonderful man, who even tolerated a sports writer for The Parthenon (Marshall’s school newspaper) with a smile and a laugh, calling me by the pet name he had bestowed on me.
“Hey, there’s the Poison Pen,” he would say with a grin.
We lost Starling too soon. He passed away in 1995 at the age of 71. He is buried in Spring Hill Cemetery along with the Marshall University football players who couldn’t be positively identified after the crash.
It is fitting.
Just as it also would be appropriate to rename the Education Building “Starling Hall.”
It’s the right call.