Remember the days when ESPN would release a new 30 for 30 on Selection Sunday? That hasn’t been a thing for quite awhile (2016’s Fantastic Lies, though there were college basketball-centric releases in April of both 2017 and 2018),
This year, ESPN is attempting to fill that hole with a documentary on ESPN+. On & Coppin premieres on March 14th, 25 years to the day after 15th-seeded Coppin State’s stunning upset over South Carolina in the 1997 NCAA Tournament.
Here’s more from ESPN’s release.
On & Coppin chronicles the challenges faced by then head coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell, in his attempt to recruit athletes to a Division I program with no facilities and located on a campus in the midst of crime-ridden West Baltimore, Md. On March 14, 1997 in the face of adversity, Coach Mitchell and his Coppin State Eagles, defied the odds and made history by becoming only the third No. 15 seed to defeat a No. 2 seed in the opening round.
The Coppin State men’s basketball team story is told through footage of games and practices from Coach Mitchell’s Coppin State Eagles teams. The documentary features the voices of coaches, players, and journalists who covered the teams. Focused on the impact of the men’s basketball program, On & Coppin reveals how Coach Mitchell turned the disparity in funding for sports at HBCU compared to predominantly White institutions into an opportunity by scheduling away games at programs that pay to play his team. The funds from the pay-for-play games helped defray costs for the athletic program at Coppin State.
I feel like the Coppin State upset has been lost to history, especially with the rash of 15 over 2 upsets in the last decade (there have been five since 2012, compared to just four from 1985-2011). The program and its historic win deserves to be spotlighted, and this doc sounds like it’ll be interesting and a nice way to spend an hour before March Madness begins next week.