Legendary head men’s college basketball coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell will not return next season after nearly 30 years of coaching at Coppin State University,
Coppin State Athletic Director Derrick Ramsey said March 28.
“First I want to say that Coppin State is extremely thankful and appreciative of everything that Fang Mitchell has done for our university,” Ramsey said during a telephone call in response to news reports. “He’s an amazing coach and person, and the legacy he established here in Baltimore will be honored and appreciated.”
Mitchell took over Coppin State’s men’s basketball team in 1986 and went on to lead the Eagles to 11 consecutive winning seasons from 1988 to 2000, including six 20-win seasons and four appearances in the NCAA Tournament.
Fang’s legend grew in 1997 when he led Coppin State to an upset win over South Carolina, becoming just the third 15th seed to beat a No. 2 seed in the first round of the big dance. A six-time recipient of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) Head Coach of the Year award, Mitchell is also the winningest coach at Coppin State with 429 wins. In his career he coached to a total of 656 wins, having served as the head basketball coach of Gloucester County College before moving to Coppin State.
Longtime Howard University Sports Information Director Ed Hill Jr. joined Howard around the same time Mitchell was hired at Coppin State. He said he remembers the first time that he ever met Mitchell during a game in the mid-1980s and could instantly tell it was something different about him.
“It was just something special about his presence that just demanded success,” Hill told the AFRO.
“I remember my kids would love to come to our home games whenever we played Coppin State just so they could sit behind Coppin State’s bench so they could impersonate Fang’s deep, methodic voice,” Hill said before laughing and doing his own impersonation of Fang’s classic deep voice.”
“But man, he had that team like a machine during the late ‘90s. They were simply unstoppable for a three-year period and it really put not only Coppin State on the map, but the MEAC and HBCUs in general. That was all because of Fang Mitchell.”
Unfortunately, Coppin State has not had a winning season in any of the last three seasons and finished the 2013-14 season with a 12-20 won-loss record.
“As you’re well aware, this is a competition business and the past three years we haven’t competed at the level we expect to compete at.” Ramsey said. “We’re ready to get a fresh start on getting the program back in the winning direction.”
Ramsey said a national search for Mitchell’s replacement begins immediately. Whoever it is that will take over for Mitchell will probably spend a lot of time recruiting in Baltimore.
“We really want to focus on the city of Baltimore,” Ramsey said. “The talent in our area right now is incredible and we have to take advantage of it.”
Ramsey told the AFRO the search for replacing Ramsey begins immediately.