Rob Cullinan, right, resigned as the head coach of the Mission Viejo boys basketball program on July 27.

Cullinan resigns as Mission Viejo coach


One of Orange County’s most successful boys basketball programs over the past decade is in search of its third coach in as many years.

Rob Cullinan announced July 27 he has resigned as the head coach at Mission Viejo. Cullinan, a 1992 Mission Viejo graduate, took over from longtime coach Troy Roelen last season after 12 seasons as the associate head coach at Dana Hills.

“Due to my current health situation (12 herniated discs from cervical to my sacrum, a thoracic disc pushing on my spinal cord, history of 2 past back surgeries and now a pending 3rd back surgery) ... I have made a very tough and emotional decision. I’ve informed Mission Viejo High School administration that I will be stepping down as head basketball coach,” Cullinan said in his resignation letter.

The decision had to have been an especially tough one for Cullinan, who said when he was hired last year that the position was his “dream job.” Cullinan has been a varsity head coach before – at Laguna Beach from 2001 to 2003.

In his one season at Mission Viejo, Cullinan took over a rebuilding program. The Diablos were 5-21 overall, 1-7 in the South Coast League. He will remain on campus as a history teacher.

“I feel honored to be a part of the Mission legacy as a student-athlete, alumni, former head coach and most importantly as a teacher,” Cullinan wrote. “I wish the basketball program nothing but success on and off the court! Once a Diablo, Always a Diablo!!!”

Roelen, who is now the school’s athletic director, said the timing of the resignation couldn’t be much worse, but added “things happen that are outside of your control. Everybody has to take care of themselves and their family first.”

Roelen said finding a quality coach in a short amount of time will be difficult for two reasons: 1) teachers/coaches are already under contract for the upcoming year; and 2) there might not be a teaching position available at the school, meaning the next coach could be a walk-on.

Roelen, who coached for 12 seasons at Mission Viejo, said the administration at the Saddleback Valley Unified School District did offer him the coaching job, but only if he would vacate his position as athletic director. A district policy doesn’t allow a coach to serve as coach and athletic director at the same time.

Roelen, who won eight league championships and one CIF title at Mission Viejo, declined.

He said he hopes to begin interviewing candidates before the end of the month.

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