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Mitchell, Coppin get their due Coach nets 7-year deal; lawmakers cheer team


It was no surprise that Coppin State basketball coach Fang Mitchell was a hot commodity during the gathering of coaches and athletic directors this past weekend in Indianapolis.

With a first-round win over second-seeded South Carolina and a one-point loss to Texas in the second round, his Eagles posted one of the most surprising efforts ever in the NCAA tournament.

In a position to seek out a higher profile and more lucrative job, Mitchell said no thanks. He said he's happy at Coppin State, and the school announced yesterday it had signed Mitchell to a seven-year contract extension.

"I'm happy here," said Mitchell, who has amassed a 205-120 record in 11 seasons at Coppin. "Even though I probably could have put out some feelers after the success we had this season, I just think Coppin is a great situation."

The seven-year deal is equal to his current salary of $100,000, and includes incentives and a rollover clause giving him the option to renew each year. It replaces the five-year rollover contract that Mitchell had one year remaining on.

Mitchell, who also assumed the role of athletic director last year, is seven wins shy of becoming the school's all-time winningest coach and has led the team to postseason play in five of the last eight years. That includes three NCAA tournament appearances.

Yesterday the Coppin State team was recognized in Annapolis, where the Eagles toured the House and Senate. Mitchell addressed the members of the House, and met on the State House steps with Gov. Parris N. Glendening.

"It was a nice experience for us," Mitchell said. "It felt good to be recognized by the state like that."

Both the Senate and the House of Delegates adopted resolutions lauding the team, which in turn presented autographed basketballs to House Speaker Casper R. Taylor Jr. and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr.

Members of the team lined up in the well of the Senate chamber, and their height made it difficult for Miller to spot senators who were clamoring to pay tribute to the team. Before they left, Miller and team members passed the ball between the podium and the floor of the Senate, finally quitting when the Senate president bounced one off the clerk's desk.

Mitchell said that basking in their state's honor meant a lot to his players.

"They need this. Because of the way society is and the problems you have with society, any time you can wrap your arms around young people it helps because it builds them up and makes them feel better about themselves," he said.

With the team's success, scheduling has continued to be difficult for Mitchell. He has just five pre-conference games scheduled, including a road game against defending NCAA champion Arizona.

Pub Date: 4/04/97

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