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.
- Local Sports
- Quartet of area wrestlers move on to PIAA semifinals
Four local wrestlers have chance for PIAA gold
Four local wrestlers will compete tonight for a spot in the state finals at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships.
Moving on up | Nine grapplers advance to AA quarterfinals
Bedford’s Garrett Thomas said he wasn’t nervous at all.
United’s Tyler Oliver admitted that he was, even if he told his coaches that he wasn’t.
And Richland’s Nico Pecora said the pressure is on his family members, not him.
Nervous or not, those three, who were making their state tournament debuts, and six other local wrestlers won their first match at the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships on Thursday morning to qualify for today’s quarterfinal round.
Day 1 gives ups and downs for region
There was plenty of talk about roller coasters on Thursday afternoon at the Giant Center, but it had nothing to do with the thrill rides across the parking lot at Hersheypark.
It was all about the ups and downs of the PIAA Class AA Wrestling Championships.
Berlin boys wary of Trojans’ size, athleticism
On the same night last week that Berlin Brothersvalley was winning its first District 5-A title since 2007, Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic was losing to eventual champion Lincoln Park in the WPIAL quarterfinals.
The Mountaineers (23-2), one of three area boys district champions set to begin opening-round action in the PIAA playoffs tonight, and Trojans (15-10) will square off this evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Pitt-Johnstown Sports Center, site of Berlin’s 65-51 district championship win over Forbes Road.
Tomahawks return home to face Jets
Johnstown Tomahawks coach Jason Spence knows numbers can be deceiving.
For instance, the Tomahawks’ Matt Meier had two goals and three points on Saturday night. Goaltender Brett Young made 41 saves.
Those statistics are impressive for 60 minutes of work. Both players had solid efforts, especially during a road game. On paper, the numbers looked good enough for a victory.
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.
Pirates, Jays rained out
The Toronto Blue Jays' spring training game at the Pittsburgh Pirates was rained out Thursday.
The game will not be made up.
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.
- More Local Sports Headlines