The Jamie Dixon era as Pitt’s basketball coach has come to an end. In a move that’s been speculated about for the last 24 hours, Dixon is heading back to his alma matter TCU.
This really start developing when Dixon’s camp got the feeling that Pitt’s administration wasn’t going to block him leaving, something they’ve done multiple times in the past. Back in 2013, USC showed interest in hiring Dixon, which resulted in then athletic director Steve Pederson signing Dixon to a new 10 year contract.
A source close to the basketball program tells that the new Pitt administration privately felt that a fresh start for both sides was probably needed. Dixon has been the basketball coach for Pitt since 2003. 13 years is a long time and many Pitt people felt a fresh start and fresh ideas were probably needed.
The 50-year old coach compiled a record of 328-123 while at Pitt and was named National Coach of the Year. He is the first and only head coach in Pitt’s history to lead his team to seven consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
The criticism of Dixon has always been his ability to win in the NCAA Tournament. Pitt has always been a very good regular season team but that success didn’t translate to wins in March. In fact, Pitt hasn’t won a first round NCAA tournament game since 2009. His last game at Pitt was an ugly one, losing to Wisconsin in the first round 47-43.
Dixon is returning “home” to TCU, where he played his college basketball from 1984-87. Another factor in this move is his close relationship with TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte.
TCU is considered a very challenging job, probably one of the most difficult in all of college basketball. However, the school just built a new $250 million basketball arena and Dallas is a place that produces a lot of high level D-1 talent. The question is, will Dixon and his staff be able to recruit that talent to TCU?
Dixon is used to winning and he’ll clearly be in rebuilding mode for now at TCU. How long has it been since TCU has had real success?
TCU’s last NCAA tournament win: March 12, 1987, a 76-60 win over Marshall. Dixon was on that team and scored 11 points. The Horned Frogs have not had a 20-win season in more than a decade and haven’t been to the NCAA tournament since 1998.
Here’s some more numbers illustrating just how tough of a job this will be for Dixon.
Since 1934, only one TCU coach has had a winning record in conference play and that was Billy Tubbs during his run in the late 1990’s and 2000.
Pitt has called a press conference with athletic director Scott Barnes at 5:30 PM.
I’ll continue to update this story throughout the night.