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.
Blue Jackets outlast Pens in double-OT
Matt Calvert banged home a rebound 1:10 into the second overtime and the Columbus Blue Jackets earned the first playoff victory in franchise history with a 4-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.
Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury stuffed the initial shot by Cam Atkinson but Calvert stood all alone at the left post and wristed a shot into the open net to even the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at one game each.
Brewers rally to clip Pirates
Ryan Braun hit two homers, including a two-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning that sent the Milwaukee Brewers over the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 Saturday night.
Braun has five home runs this season after being suspended for the last 65 games of 2013 following Major League Baseball’s investigation into the Biogenesis drug scandal.
Area runners gearing for Boston Marathon
The time was 12:15 p.m. It was Monday April 19, 1897. Tom Burke had drawn a line across the dirt road with his foot. Eighteen men gathered near Metcalf’s Mill in Ashland, Massachusetts.
UPJ takes one, drops second
John Fees’ spring baseball season accurately mirrors that of his Pitt-Johnstown team.
Fees started slow, losing his first four decisions, but has rebounded nicely in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division.
Brewers ward off late Pirates rally bid
Kyle Lohse pitched effectively into the seventh inning, Carlos Gomez homered and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 5-3 Friday night.
Lohse (3-1) improved to 11-2 in his career against the Pirates, allowing one earned run in a win against them for the second time in six days.
Drama lacking sans Tiger
If professional golf saw its future at Augusta National last weekend, the sight had to be worse than choking on a 5-foot putt.
The course was there in all its splendor.
Penguins are wary of spunky Blue Jackets
Sidney Crosby is used to the attention. It comes with the territory when you’re the best hockey player in the world.
Still, the Pittsburgh Penguins star knows the spotlight becomes more acute in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Pirates power past Brewers
Andrew McCutchen hit his first homer of the season and drove in three runs, Pedro Alvarez had a three-run shot and pinch-hitter Josh Harrison broke a tie with a long ball in the seventh inning as the Pittsburgh Pirates handed the Milwaukee Brewers their first road loss, 11-2 on Thursday night.
Harrison’s two-run drive down the left field line off Rob Wooten (0-1) was the second of his career as a pinch hitter.
Jackets preparing for Game 2
The Columbus Blue Jackets don’t feel they’re doomed after blowing a two-goal lead in a Game 1 loss of their first-round Stanley Cup playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“It’s not about missed chances, or feeling sorry about it,” goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky said at Thursday’s optional workout, 13 hours after falling 4-3 in Pittsburgh.
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