Mitchell interviews in Florida

March 08, 1995|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Sun Staff Writer

Florida International University will hire a men's basketball coach during the next two weeks, and Coppin State's Fang Mitchell interviewed for the job on Monday.

Mitchell is one of six finalists. The job became available when coach Bob Weltlich announced his retirement two months ago. Weltlich is preparing the 11-18 Golden Panthers for an unexpected trip to the NCAA tournament, a berth they earned by winning the Trans America Athletic Conference tournament last weekend as the eighth seed.

A source at FIU said Mitchell and Penn assistant Fran O'Hanlon interviewed for the job on Monday.

The source added that FIU could make a decision as early as next week, and that Mitchell's interview "went very well. He came across as very enthusiastic. Obviously, his record is very impressive."

Mitchell was reluctant to comment on his interest in the job.

"I'm employed by Coppin State; I just lost a very important game for Coppin. I don't think that's the appropriate thing to talk about," said Mitchell, whose Eagles lost to North Carolina A&T in Saturday's MEAC tournament championship game, a loss that cost Coppin State an NCAA tournament berth.

"I have to make a decision on what I want to do. Right now, I don't have a decision," Mitchell added.

Mitchell left Gloucester County (N.J.) College in 1986 to take his first Division I job at Coppin State. Since 1990, Coppin has had four 20-win seasons, five regular-season MEAC titles, two NCAA tournament berths and one National Invitation Tournament berth.

"I'm worried about losing him, but one has to be realistic about this," said Dr. Calvin Burnett, Coppin State's president. "He's been with us for almost 10 years, and we recognize that we can't compete with huge universities in terms of salaries and resources."

Florida International, in Miami, has about 25,000 students, eight times the number at Coppin. According to the FIU source, the school is offering a $100,000 annual salary. Mitchell makes $91,200 a year at Coppin State.

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