Nick Cullen’s resignation on Tuesday as the head girls basketball coach at Stearns High School in Millinocket apparently was related to his touching one of his players during a game last Friday night.
Jon Alba at ABC 7 and FOX 22 in Bangor was the first to report that the Millinocket School Department on Wednesday morning had released a brief statement that described the interaction as a “thoughtless, encouraging touch.”
Cullen had been placed on paid administrative leave after meeting with school officials on Saturday morning and on Tuesday announced his intention to relinquish the coaching job.
However, Cullen will retain his job as a math teacher at Stearns and as Millinocket’s junior high school athletic director. He is expected to return to work on Monday.
Cullen could not be reached for comment on Wednesday afternoon.
Wednesday’s statement from the Millinocket School Department read:
“Coach Nick Cullen was placed on paid administrative leave until an investigation could be completed based on an incident during the girls’ basketball game at Searsport Friday, Jan. 13, 2017. The incident was a thoughtless, encouraging touch.
“Coach Cullen has resigned from his position as girls’ basketball coach effective immediately. He will resume his teaching position on Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, along with his duties as junior high athletic director. His coaching position will be replaced by the assistant coaches.”
Assistant coach Mike Brown will lead the Minutemen for the remainder of the season.
Millinocket Superintendent of Schools Frank Boynton said it is time for the school “to now move on from it.”
Stearns has an 11-0 record this season and occupies second place in the Class C North girls basketball Heal Point Standings.
In addition to coaching the girls basketball team, Cullen is the softball coach at Stearns. He has guided the Stearns girls to back-to-back Class D North championships the past two seasons.
Boynton said Cullen’s status as the softball coach “hasn’t come up. We’ve just been dealing with basketball.”
Stearns has seven regular-season games remaining on its schedule and plays again at Penobscot Valley in Howland on Friday night, followed a game at Bucksport on Tuesday before back-to-back home games in Millinocket against Penquis of Milo on Jan. 27 and Piscataquis of Guilford on Jan. 31.
The final three games are against Bucksport in Millinocket on Feb. 2, at Schenck in East Millinocket on Feb. 3 and at Dexter on Feb. 8.