Marlin Chinn experienced the logical escalation in coaching women’s basketball as a high school and college assistant, although he says he has never pursued a job. That includes Chinn’s first head-coaching position as the first new FIU women’s basketball head coach since Jimmy Carter’s last White House summer.
“FIU sought me and out and recruited me,” Chinn said Wednesday afternoon after signing a five-year deal. “Whether Mount St. Mary’s, Seton Hall, Maryland, I’ve never applied for a job. They’ve all come to me.”
FIU came to him after.
According to athletic director Pete Garcia, Chinn’s name kept coming up in the search Garcia said he put on the desk of Senior Associate Athletic Director/Chief Operating Officer Heath Glick in January. Cindy Russo announced her retirement Jan. 21 after winning 667 games at FIU in 1977-78 and from 1980-2014.
“We wanted someone who could recruit,” Garcia said. “We wanted to play an uptempo style, run and press, because if there’s one thing we can recruit in Florida is athletes. And I wanted to play a style of basketball that scores a lot of points.”
Chinn graduated from Hampton University with an accounting degree in 1992 and the same year served as president of the National Association of Black Accountants. After four years as a high school assistant, he did a total of 17 years as an assistant under the three women he consider his mentors: Mount St. Mary’s Vanessa Blair (seven years); Seton Hall’s Phyllis Mangina (four seasons); and Maryland’s Brenda Frese (six seasons).
While FIU waited for Chinn to complete the Terrapins’ second consecutive Final Four season, the school interviewed three other candidates, Garcia said. But it was Chinn who got the visit to West Dade, meeting with FIU President Mark Rosenberg and Kiandre’a Pound, Conference USA’s Freshman of the Year.
“He seemed like a nice guy and he’s about family,” Pound said. “He seems well-rounded, but likes to work hard.”
Chinn said what struck him as attractive about FIU, a school he knew little about before they began the wooing, was “all the facilities, and the facilities under construction all over campus. The arena’s getting a new floor, bleachers, locker room and film room.
“Obviously, the state of Florida is a hotbed of talent. We have a plan of attack for that.”
The Washington-Baltimore axis birthed and raised Chinn. The only head-coaching job he sought while at Maryland, Baltimore-area’s Towson State in 2013, would’ve just changed directions on his commute.
But Chinn believes he possesses the key to unlock the local recruiting shackles under which many FIU coaches labor.
“I have a lot of Florida recruiting ties with the AAU power players in the area,” Chinn said. “All those guys, I’ve developed relationships with through the years while I was at Seton Hall and Maryland.”