Boys basketball: McCullough steps down at Springfield to put ‘family first’

Ron Long, Matt Yinger will serve as co-coaches this season

SPRINGFIELD — Shawn McCullough wanted to make it work. But when his mother needed him around more because of health problems, he made the difficult decision last week to resign as boys basketball coach at Springfield High School a few days before the season opener.

McCullough was about to begin his third season leading the Wildcats, who started late because of the football team’s run to the Division I state championship game. The Wildcats lost their opener on Friday to Fairmont and their second game on Sunday to Cincinnati St. Xavier under the direction of Ron Long and Matt Yinger. Athletic director Mike Dellapina said they will co-lead the team for the rest of the season.

“Both of them have a lot of knowledge and really good relationships with the kids, and they work very well together,” Dellapina said. “I’m just relying on them to kind of tag team and work together to help our kids get through the season.”

Yinger previously served on Isiah Carson’s staff and returned to the staff this season. Long is McCullough’s cousin and worked for McCullough at Thurgood Marshall before coming with him to Springfield for the 2020-21 season.

After the season, Dellapina said he will evaluate the staff and then determine whether to promote from within or conduct a search for the next head coach.

McCullough also had been recently promoted at his job outside of the school district. Dellapina said that situation was workable. But when McCullough needed more time for his mother and missed some practices, he knew he couldn’t continue to coach.

“I just had to put my family first,” McCullough said. “I always preach to the kids family first, and this was one of those things where I just had to step aside. I didn’t foresee it getting to this point, but it was just also one of those things where it made sense.”

McCullough said he has gotten full support from the school.

“We think the world of Shawn and he’s an outstanding person, role model and coach,” Dellapina said. “It’s a very tough situation, and your family becomes your top priority. Something has to give and in this case, unfortunately, it had to be basketball for him.”

McCullough has been coaching for the past 15 years, including the start of this one, as an assistant to Darnell Hoskins at Thurgood Marshall, then head coach at Stivers, then head coach at Marshall after Hoskins left for Middletown. His two Springfield teams went 10-11 and 5-11 with two tournament wins. He is 47 and doesn’t rule out coaching again.

“Down the road I would love to, but I just have to wait and see what’s going to happen,” he said. “I’d like to be around the game at some capacity.”

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