Seasoned Veteran Set to Take Reins of the Rattler Program
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (May 16) – Florida A&M University (FAMU) announced today that former University of Oregon men's basketball assistant Robert McCullum will be the school's next head men's basketball coach.
A seasoned veteran with an impressive résuméspanning more than 30 years, McCullum comes to FAMU after spending the last three seasons at Oregon, which made its first trip to the Final Four in 78 years this past April.
McCullum's career, which is highlighted by head coaching assignments at Western Michigan and the University of South Florida, has been defined by the successful total development of his student-athletes in the classroom and on the court.
Milton Overton Jr., FAMU's director of Athletics, says he's excited about the possibilities for Rattler basketball under McCullum's leadership.
“Coach McCullum has a successful history of recruiting Final Four-level talent in two of the states important to FAMU's Basketball success – Georgia and Florida.,” Overton said. “McCullum's international connections will allow FAMU to expand its recruiting base globally and provide professional basketball opportunities for our exiting players.”
He added, “McCullum has also demonstrated success winning in a low resource mid-level college conference while graduating players and raising money for his program. Coach McCullum has a proven ability to develop players to reach their full basketball and academic potential. These key attributes make him the best fit and right man to lead the FAMU men's basketball program. ”
McCullum outlined his plan to get the team back to championship caliber.
“First and foremost my job, as I see it, is to help each student-athlete become a well-rounded graduate of FAMU, prepared for the challenges of the 21st-century,” he said. “We will play extremely hard, and with a level of toughness that our opponents will always know they're in for a fight. Simply put, I want to be known as the ‘Fighting Rattlers.'”
He added that in addition to focusing on rebounding the ball, which is “near and dear” to his heart, attacking offensively with three-pointers, and being physical inside, he wants to develop a culture of fun with the team
“On the court we want to be fun to watch – it's extremely important that the coaching staff emphasize the importance of our players having fun,” McCullum said. “Our job is to be good teachers. The best teachers in any discipline make learning fun for their students.”
At both Western Michigan and South Florida, he implemented class attendance policies and procedures that resulted in dramatic improvements in academic performance, earning both schools recognition on the conference level for highest team GPA and individual academic achievement.
In seven seasons as a head coach, 18 of the 23 players he recruited into his programs finished their eligibility and graduated within five years. During his career, he developed more than a dozen players who advanced to the NBA, including a number of first and second round draft picks.
FAMU Interim President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., said he welcomes the wealth of knowledge and experience that McCollum brings to FAMU.
“I commend Athletic Director Overton for working to bring this search to a close and identify a new coach for our basketball program. We look forward to Coach McCullum providing the type of support needed to create a winning program in and out of the classroom that our students, fans and supporters deserve,” Robinson said.
While at Western Michigan (2000-03), McCullum built the Broncos program into one of the best in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) during his three seasons (2000-03), leading them to 20 wins and aNational Invitational Tournament berth in 2003.
From there, he served as the head coach at South Florida (2003-07), overseeing the Bulls' transition from Conference USA to the Big East.
His résumé also includes a second Final Four appearance (1994), where he played a vital role in the recruitment and development of student-athletes at the University of Florida as an assistant on Lon Kruger's staff.
McCullum's association with Kruger began when he joined the staff at Kansas State (1989-90), where the school made a NCAA Tournament appearance in 1990, continuing at Florida (1990-96), where the Gators made two NCAA appearances, including a run to the Final Four in 1994, and at Illinois (1996-2000), which won a Big Ten title and played in the NCAA Tournament three times.
McCullum has had an international impact on the game, serving as the Nigerian National Team head coach in 2007, which posted a 5-1 record at the All-Africa Games.
In addition to his time as Nigeria's head coach, he was an assistant for the Forshan Long Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association (2011-12), directed the first professional player camp in Russia from 2012-13 (Revolution Basketball Camp in Kazan) and was the director of the NBA's “Train the Trainer” program in Johannesburg, South Africa.
His coaching history also includes stops at San Francisco (2007-08), Central Florida (2009-10) and Georgia Tech (2010-11).
The new FAMU coach also served two stints as an assistant at South Alabama (1982-83 and 1984-87) and one year at Samford (1983-84). He moved on to Southern Illinois from 1987-89, where he helped the Salukis achieve a 20-win season and the school's first post-season bid in 11 years.
McCULLUM PERSONAL: The Birmingham, Alabama native earned his bachelor's degree at Birmingham Southern College in 1976 and his master's degree from Alabama State in 1980.
He played two seasons at Seminole Community College in Sanford, Florida, where he was the team captain as a sophomore and earned his associate's degree there in 1974.
He and his wife Cheryl have two children, Richelle and Rashid.
QUOTES ABOUT McCULLUM:
Dana Altman - Head Coach Oregon
“Robert has been a big part of our success over the last three years. Working with our players in all facets including academically. On and off the floor, he's very experienced and has a wealth of knowledge. He worked well with our entire staff and those around the university. I'll miss him, FAMU is getting a good man. He's experienced and mature and doesn't carry an ego with him."
Lon Kruger - Former head coach University of Florida
“I am very excited for Robert and excited for FAMU. He will do a fantastic job at the school. He's not only a terrific guy, but an excellent basketball coach and will do an excellent job at FAMU. He has a great relationship with the young men. In our time together, his strengths were terrific floor instruction, has an outstanding recruiting network and he's an all-around ambassador of the game.”