Scott Spinelli, Mark Turgeon’s longtime assistant at Wichita State, Texas A&M and now Maryland, will not be hired for the open Florida International University head coaching job, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.
Spinelli, Florida assistant John Pelphrey and VCU assistant Mike Rhoades were considered among the finalists for the gig, which opened after Richard Pitino bolted for Minnesota following one season. The open position, according to the source, has been offered to Norfolk State Coach Anthony Evans. The Virginian-Pilot confirmed that Evans will be named FIU’s new coach.
The person said that FIU, which could face NCAA sanctions after failing to meet Academic Progress Rate standards and is soon moving to Conference USA, prioritized a candidate with head coaching experience. Evans helped guide the Spartans to a 2012 NCAA tournament upset in the first round against Missouri, becoming at the time one of just six No. 15 seeds ever to topple a No. 2 seed.
Before leaving for the Gophers, Pitino led the Spartans to their first winning season in 13 years.
Spinelli, meanwhile, has emerged as Turgeon’s top in-game assistant over the past several years, a crucial cog who often tackles Maryland’s most challenging scouts, including Duke this past season, and suggested the in-game adjustment that helped the Terps topple Denver in the National Invitational Tournament second round.
Described by Turgeon as a “bulldog recruiter” who spearheaded the courtship of Jake Layman and Damonte Dodd, Spinelli flew down to Florida International this past weekend and interviewed with university officials.
While not actively hunting for open jobs, the source said Spinelli was also contacted by a Mid-American Conference program about its opening, later filled. The only two MAC programs with vacancies this offseason were Buffalo and Ball State.
Spinelli spent four seasons under Turgeon at Texas A&M and one season at Wichita State. He’s been the associate head coach at Nebraska, an NBA scout, an assistant coach for the now-defunct International Basketball League and a New England prep school head coach. He’s never held a college coaching gig, however, and has long held aspirations of moving to that level.
“I had an opportunity to be a head coach for six years at a prep basketball program, one of the most competitive in the country for years,” Spinelli said in late March. “You make mistakes when you’re younger as a head coach, and you’re doing pretty much everything that a Division I coach. You’re promoting, you’re recruiting, you’re handling everything academics, scheduling, everything that a head Division I coach would be doing. In my coach, I’ve been fortunate to have that experience and it’s helped me a lot as an assistant. [My family is] very happy here at the University of Maryland.”