CSU honored the legacy of Ronald “Fang” Mitchell and officially named the PEC Arena’s basketball floor after the longtime basketball coach in a special ceremony on the afternoon of Oct. 16. (Photos courtesy of Coppin State Athletics/TagTheShooter Photography)

By Demetrius Dillard
Special to the AFRO

From now on, every time an athlete, coach or spectator steps into Coppin State University’s (CSU) Physical Education Complex Arena, they will be reminded of the legacy of Ron “Fang” Mitchell.

CSU honored the legacy of Mitchell and officially named the PEC Arena’s basketball floor after the longtime basketball coach in a special ceremony on the afternoon of Oct. 16.

As head of the Coppin State’s men’s basketball team from 1986 to 2014, Mitchell established himself as one of the most accomplished MEAC coaches, leading the program to 10 regular-season titles, four conference titles and four NCAA tournament appearances while amassing 429 victories to become the winningest coach in MEAC history.

The campus community and former CSU basketball players attended the celebration in support of Mitchell. Additionally, CSU alumna and NBA broadcaster Stephanie Ready was joined by CSU President Anthony Jenkins, Mayor Brandon Scott and MEAC Commissioner Dennis Thomas to acknowledge Mitchell’s influence as a local sports figure. 

“On behalf of the citizens of Baltimore, I am pleased to present this certificate to Ronald ‘Fang’ Mitchell in recognition of your impressive career as the head coach of Coppin State University’s men’s basketball team,” Scott said, presenting Mitchell with a proclamation.

Current women’s basketball coach Laura Harper and men’s coach Juan Dixon introduced their teams as they recognized Mitchell for the impact made on them as coaches.

“This is an unbelievable honor. Hall of farmers get this honor here, getting their name put on their floor, it’s a big deal,” said Dixon, a Baltimore native who went on to play in the NBA for seven seasons.

“We appreciate everything you’ve done for this institution, we appreciate everything you’ve done for men’s basketball. I remember as a kid watching your teams play, and the toughness, the defensive tenacity that you guys played with is everything that we strive to do with our team here.”

NBA Broadcaster Stephanie Ready, left, CSU President Anthony Jenkins, Ronald “Fang” Mitchell, Mayor Brandon Scott. (Photos courtesy of Coppin State Athletics/TagTheShooter Photography)

Mitchell, a six-time MEAC Coach of the Year, also led the Eagles to NIT appearances in 1991 and 1995 before guiding them to a 1997 NCAA Tournament when No. 15-ranked CSU pulled off one of the most notable upsets, beating second-ranked South Carolina. The historic achievement marked the first win for a MEAC team in the NCAA Tournament.

The 73-year-old Philadelphia native was known as a no-nonsense disciplinarian who cared deeply for his players and their well-being on and off the court.

“Coach Mitchell is the only reason why I have had the career that I’ve had. He saw something in me as a young student-athlete and decided to take a big chance,” Ready said when she gave personal remarks.

“I just want to say Coach Mitchell thank you very much for all you’ve done for me and my family. We appreciate you and we love you so much.”

After playing a seven-minute tribute video highlighting Mitchell’s legacy and accomplishments, black lettering near the court’s sideline was unveiled that read “Ron ‘Fang’ Mitchell Court.”

As the ceremony concluded, Mitchell spoke at the podium for about 25 minutes, expressing gratitude to family, CSU basketball fans, the campus community and others who have played tremendous roles in his success throughout his 36-year head coaching career.

“I believe that being here with my name going on the floor, it wouldn’t have been possible without you,” Mitchell said, commending his former players.

“I’m happy that a lot of you have become positive contributors to society. I’m accepting this award not because of me, I’m accepting it for each and every one of you. Any time you come in and see that on the floor, that’s your imprint. The joy that I got from seeing young people happy, seeing them doing things in their lives that they never thought would be possible, meant a lot to me.”

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