Legendary Santa Monica College basketball coach John McMullen – one of an elite group of coaches nationwide who tallied more than 500 wins in his career – was inducted Jan. 16 into the 2009 SMC Sports Hall of Fame.
More than 50 people, including several of his former players, came to the induction ceremony, sponsored by the SMC Foundation.
“John McMullen is a remarkable man with a level of excellence not just in winning games but in being a positive influence on students,” said SMC Foundation President Pat McCabe. “This is a man with incredible modesty that has made us proud.”
McMullen joins such sports luminaries as Olympic gold medalist and retired SMC professor Dr. Tommie Smith, four-time Olympic swimming gold medalist and SMC alumnus Lenny Krayzelburg, and Olympic track and field bronze medalist and SMC alumnus Johnny Gray in the hall of fame.
McMullen, of Brentwood, retired as coach at SMC in 2004 after 25 years of coaching at SMC but continued teaching physical education until his full retirement in 2007.
Inducted into the California Community College’s Men’s Basketball Association Hall of Fame in 2005, he was named State Coach of the Year twice and Western States Conference Coach of the Year four times.
He guided SMC to the State championship round five times and the Western State Conference title six times. With a .689 winning percentage, he tallied a total of 529 wins, joining a handful of coaches nationwide who have passed the 500-win mark.
“Two of the greatest motivating factors in the world are fear and desire: fear of not being prepared enough and desire to do your best,” McMullen said at the induction ceremony. “I lived and coached by this.”
More than 150 of McMullen’s players transferred to colleges and universities throughout the U.S., including the University of Oregon, American University in Washington, D.C., and Claremont-McKenna in Claremont. One player, Anthony Frederick, made it to the NBA, playing for the Indiana Pacers and Sacramento Kings before his death in 2004.
“I was a lost soul until John found me,” said former player Demond Wilson. “He asked me if I wanted to play basketball. I had never thought of it before. And so John became a father figure for me, giving me direction. If it were not for him I would never have transferred to Cal State Northridge.”
After retiring from SMC he served two years as assistant coach at New Mexico State University, completing a 45-year teaching/coaching career.
McMullen received his bachelor’s degree in physical education and health science from California State University at Northridge and a master’s in education from California Lutheran University. He is married and has two grown sons.