Jamie Dixon isn’t going anywhere but back to work.
The Pittsburgh head coach signed a 10-year contract on Saturday that could keep him with the Panthers well into the next decade. The deal comes after speculation surfaced USC was targeting Dixon, a Southern California native, for its open job.
“Pitt and Pittsburgh are home,” Dixon said in a statement. “My family and I feel blessed to be part of such a great institution and wonderful city. It is the people who truly make a place special. I could not be surrounded by better players, staff and administration.”
Dixon is 262-86 in 10 years at Pitt and has the highest winning percentage of any coach in Big East history. The Panthers went 24-9 this season including 12-6 in their final year in the league before heading to the ACC this summer.
Despite the gaudy conference record, Pitt was given a No. 8 seed by the NCAA selection committee, the school’s lowest since 2005.
While the players expressed dismay over the seeding, Dixon pressed onward. Still, the Panthers were thoroughly outplayed by Wichita State in a 73-55 loss, the program’s worst in the tournament in 20 years.
The defeat marked Pitt’s third straight early exit from the NCAAs. Dixon is 11-9 in the tournament but the Panthers – who missed the NCAAs entirely last spring – have not advanced past the opening weekend since 2009, when they lost to Villanova in the regional finals.
Dixon expressed disappointment in his team’s play but optimism about the future in the immediate aftermath. Pitt loses just two players to graduation and has one of the most promising big men in the country in freshman center Steven Adams.
Having Adams in the middle and Dixon on the sideline should help Pitt in its transition to the ACC.
Dixon has been diplomatic about the move and joked earlier this month he didn’t have any family in Greensboro, N.C., the frequent home of the ACC tournament.
Still, Dixon also understood the reasons behind Pitt’s decision and can now focus on how to elbow aside Duke and North Carolina for ACC supremacy much the way the Panthers have done to the likes of
Syracuse and Connecticut over the last 12 years in the Big East.
Dixon came to Pitt as an assistant under Ben Howland in 1999 and then took over in 2003 when his mentor left for UCLA.
All Dixon has done is lead the Panthers to two Big East regular-season titles and a Big East tournament championship.
Though Dixon has done nothing but continue to deepen his roots in Pittsburgh, he understands that his name is floated out whenever a high-profile job opens.
He called it an annual rite of spring, earlier this week.
Still, Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson acted aggressively to make sure Dixon remains as the face of one of the nation’s most consistently competitive programs.
“In order to maintain and build upon our past success, it was important to our university and athletic department that we make a strong long-term commitment to Jamie,” Pederson said in a statement. “He has been far more than a basketball coach at Pitt and we are fortunate to have such a high-caliber person representing our university. I look forward to continuing to work with Jamie as he leads our program into an exciting new era in the ACC.”
Jamie Dixon isn’t going anywhere but back to work.
Danel helping Falcons to Division III tournament
When Chelsea Danel was a senior at North Star, the Cougars were able to win a District 5-AA basketball title.
Now Danel, a senior at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, is a key contributor on a Falcons’ hoops squad which upset top-seeded Lebanon Valley 53-47 in the Commonwealth Conference championship on Saturday. It was the ninth title for the Falcons in 13 appearances.
Ferndale grad aiding Duquesne women’s hoops
Matt Schmidt was hired as an assistant coach for the Duquesne women’s basketball team in June.
Now the former Ferndale High School standout will have his first opportunity to experience March madness with the Dukes, who are the sixth-seed in the Atlantic 10 Tournament which opened Thursday in Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, Va.
Icecats on way to national tournament
The Pitt-Johnstown hockey team needed to overcome some long odds to advance to the ACHA Men’s Division III national championship tournament in Coral Springs, Fla. next week.
- Local Sports Briefs 3-7-14
St. Francis wins NEC quarterfinal
Ronnie Drinnon hit a go-ahead basket and a pair of free throws in the final 48 seconds, scoring a career high 20 points as sixth-seeded St. Francis battled past third-seeded Bryant 55-54 in the Northeast Conference tournament Wednesday night.
St. Francis hasn’t been in the playoffs since the 2010-11 season and scrapped past Bryant (18-14) in a closely fought contest that saw five ties and five lead changes – three in the final 3:37.
Wake Forest beats Pitt in ACC opener
Dearica Hamby finished with 25 points, 16 rebounds, eight assists and two steals as No. 11 seed Wake Forest women beat 14th-seeded Pittsburgh 72-58 in the first round of the ACC tournament on Wednesday night.
Hamby had a tremendous night in notching her school-record 22nd double-double of the season.
UPJ makes day special for young sports fan
The Pitt-Johnstown baseball team made one of the most important signings in the program’s history on Wednesday at the Sports Center.
Johnstown resident Jill Miller signed a letter of intent on behalf of her 4-year-old son Brandon, who is battling Chiari Malformation, a brain ailment that leads to pain throughout the young boy’s body on a daily basis.
Warren leads N.C. State past Pittsburgh
T.J. Warren scored a career-high 41 points and N.C. State surged past Pittsburgh 74-67 on Monday night.
Warren’s eighth 30-point game of the year gave the Wolfpack’s flagging NCAA tournament hopes a needed boost. N.C. State (18-12, 8-9 ACC) won for just the second time in its last six games, riding Warren for much of the second half.
The ACC’s leading scorer made seven straight shots at one point and finished 16 of 22 from the field. His emphatic dunk in the final seconds sealed it.
Bishop Carroll grad earns honor
After earning All-Patriot League recognition at the Indoor Track and Field Championships over the weekend, Bucknell senior Emily Waksmunski was honored for her success on the track and in the classroom as a winner of the 2014 Patriot League Indoor Track and Field Scholar-Athlete of the Year award.
Waksmunski finished second in both the 1,000-meter run (2:55.98) and as part of Bucknell’s 4 X 800m relay (9:05.48).
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