Florida International has Mitchell in mind

Ron "Fang" Mitchell, who has coached Coppin State to five Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference regular-season championships and two NCAA tournament appearances in nine seasons, could be headed for a new job.

Yesterday's Miami Herald reported that Mitchell is one of six finalists for the head coaching job at Florida International University, where Robert Weitlich is retiring after this year. The Golden Panthers won the Trans America Athletic Conference tournament yesterday, gaining an automatic bid to the NCAAs with an 11-18 record.


Mitchell, who reportedly will interview for the job this week, declined to comment yesterday.

"I don't know anything about it. He [Mitchell] hasn't said anything to me about it," said Derek Brown, Mitchell's longtime assistant. "He's very happy here at Coppin. He's comfortable here. He's going to stay here."


Said Coppin athletic director Clayton McNeill: "I haven't been informed of that. We know there are a number of people out there who realize he's an excellent coach and would love to have him. That's a reality we've faced since he came on board years ago."

The other five candidates reportedly in the running for the Florida International job are Fran O'Hanlon, the top assistant at Penn; Cincinnati assistant Larry Harrison; Temple assistant Dean Demopoulos; Boston College assistant Rick Boyages; and Shakey Rodriguez, who has coached Miami High to five Florida state championships.

Mitchell, whose Eagles lost a chance to qualify for their third NCAA tournament since 1990 with a 66-64 loss in yesterday's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference tournament championship game, has coached Coppin State to a 163-100 record in nine years. That includes four, 20-win seasons and a three-year run in which the Eagles went 47-1 during the MEAC regular season.

Before coming to Coppin State in 1986, Mitchell amassed a 227-45 over eight seasons at Gloucester County (N.J.) College.