The University of Pittsburgh announced this afternoon that head basketball coach Jamie Dixon has resigned at Pitt to become the new head coach at TCU, his alma mater. He served the last 17 years at Pitt (13 as head coach). Dixon arrived as an assistant under then-new head coach Ben Howland and was an assistant on his first staff.
“For 17 years—13 as head coach—Jamie Dixon has been a remarkable ambassador for the University of Pittsburgh. He was a great leader who cared deeply for our student-athletes and our entire basketball program,” said Pitt Chancellor Patrick Gallagher. “I can appreciate that the rare chance of coaching for your alma mater does not come up very often and is hard to pass up, but we will miss him here at Pitt. We wish him the best and we now turn our attention to advancing our program, building on the solid foundation Jamie left us.”
Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes said even though the loss against Wisconsin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament was “not pleasant with anybody,” he was ready to “welcome Jamie [Dixon] back.” Barnes is already conducting a national search in response.
“A new era in Pitt basketball begins today. We will work quickly and diligently to find our new leader. I’m already behind. Tomorrow would be great. We’ve got student athletes sitting and waiting,” Barnes said. “[Dixon] felt there was this very small window for this opportunity and that he wouldn’t have that opportunity later. When that’s the case, being at Pitt isn’t the right opportunity. You’re not vested in what you’re doing.”
Dixon’s buyout to leave Pitt was well-above market value, according to Barnes, so he made it easier for Dixon to leave by lowering the buyout, but still leaving some of it intact to be responsible for the university.
“We began conversations very soon after coming back from the [NCAA]tournament. I have had several conversations with him as we went through that process. We learned that his heart was at TCU. We all knew that was open. That wasn’t a surprise,” Barnes said. “They buyout was one of the most-significant buyouts I’ve seen. We had the opportunity to make the job available to him. We softened the buyout. We felt it would not be good to hold him hostage with a buyout way beyond market value. ”
Barnes outlined what he is looking for in the next head coach. He already had a list in place of potential candidates, which is a common practice of athletic directors across the country.
“Any Ad worth his salt has lists [of candidates] better have a list of candidates in his pocket at all times. We’re looking for a lot of qualities–A successful, sitting division one coach, impeccable character, high motor, all the intangibles, the leadership qualities, a guy who can absolutely recruit his tail off, and connect with our student athletes,” Barnes said. “[Somebody from the area] could play into it, but that’s not a fundamental requirement. This is a national job. We look at it as such.”
He feels there is a lot to offer to attract candidates to Pitt.
“There’s so many qualities to this job–facilities, fan support, platform (ACC), the success Pitt has had over the years,” Barnes said. “We have enlisted a search firm here in the last couple days to be on call, we will utilize that search firm and begin that process immediately.”
Barnes thinks a change may be good for the program at this time.
“It’s the responsibility of the [athletic director] and the support staff to find the right person. It’s an opportunity to build a stronger athletic program. We have an opportunity to revitalize and get better.
That’s what were always striving for,” Barnes said. “We can revitalize the fan base. A fresh start, a fresh face can do that. We’ve lost some attendance. That’s the same question we pondered at the men’s [NCAA] basketball tournament. This isn’t a problem that’s unique to Pitt.”
Dixon met with the players late Monday afternoon. Barnes also met with them and assured them the best person would be hired as their new head coach.
“You’ve got some time when you don’t have a leader. Get ready for the next person so they know you mean business,” Barnes said to the players who do not have a head coach right now. “We’ll work to get the right person.”
for more information: Pitt web site