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Toughness. Intelligence. Unselfishness. Consistency. Teamwork. Success. Improvement. These words describe the University of Pittsburgh basketball program led by head coach Jamie Dixon.
Using those ideals, Dixon has established and maintained a “Tradition of Excellence” and “Culture of Success” for Pitt Basketball both on and off the floor. On the floor, Pitt has emerged as a national power. The Panthers rank among the nation’s top-10 programs in winning percentage over the last 14 years and Pitt has claimed more conference titles (six) than any other school in the previous Big East and third-most among Atlantic Coast Conference programs. Player development is a cornerstone for the program as six players have won the Big East Most Improved Player Award since Dixon’s arrival.
Dixon has also built a program that its fans can be proud of off the court. Pitt is prominent in the community, donating countless hours of service for the greater good. In the classroom, Pitt has graduated a majority of its student-athletes and has achieved top-10 percent NCAA Academic Performance Rate team scores in four of the past five years.
Beginning his 13th season as its head coach at Pitt (17th overall), Dixon has stockpiled numerous coaching milestones and awards:
- Earned four college basketball National Coach of the Year honors: 2011 Sporting News, 2010 Jim Phelan Award, 2010 USA Basketball and 2009 Naismith.
- Guided Pitt to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances in the last 12 seasons, one of only eight college basketball programs nationally to achieve that honor.
- Set the NCAA Division I record for most wins after eight seasons as a head coach in 2011 with 216 victories. He also ranks fourth all-time in wins after 10 seasons (262) and 12 season (307) as a head coach, third following nine seasons (238), tied the record for most wins after seven years in 2010 (188) and set the six-year mark in 2009 (163).
- Guided Pitt to three Big East Championships including two outright Big East regular season titles (2003-04 and 2010-11) and one tournament championship (2008). The recent 2011 outright regular season title came in a league that placed an all-time record 11 teams in the NCAA Tournament.
- Led Pitt to its first two NCAA Tournament No. 1 seeds (2009 and 2011).
- Became the only coach in NCAA Division I basketball to guide his team to the NCAA Tournament and win at least one game in each tournament over a six-year span (2006-11).
- Guided Pitt to its first NCAA Regional Final (64-team tournament) and Elite Eight appearance, a school-best 31-5 record, the school’s first No. 1 national ranking and the program’s first-ever No. 1 seed upon entering the NCAA Tournament in 2008-09.
- Led the USA Basketball Under-19 Team to the 2009 FIBA World Championship Gold Medal and 9-0 record after inheriting an overhauled roster and assuming head coaching duties a month before competition began.
- Concluded the 2012-13 season and final in the league as the winningest coach in Big East history with a current .658 winning percentage in league games (127-66), surpassing several legendary coaches including John Thompson, Jim Calhoun, Jim Boeheim, Rick Pitino and Lou Carnesseca.
- Became the only coach in school history to lead Pitt to two 30-win seasons, two No. 1 seeds upon entering the NCAA Tournament, nine consecutive 20-win seasons, eight straight 10-plus win Big East regular seasons and eight straight NCAA Tournaments (2004-11).
- Directed Pitt to three NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances (2004, 2007 and 2009).
- Named Madison Square Garden’s College Basketball “Coach of the Decade” (2000-10).
- Guided Pitt to its second Big East Championship title in 2008. The Panthers became the second squad in league history to capture the crown after winning four games.
- Led Pitt to the Big East Championship final four times.
- One of only nine coaches in NCAA Division I history to win over 100 games during the first four seasons of a coaching career.
- Reached both 100 wins and 200 wins at Pitt faster than any other head coach in school history. Dixon needed only 126 games to reach the 100-win milestone. Only 14 coaches in the history of college basketball reached 100 career victories faster than Dixon. His 200 victories were accomplished in only 255 total contests. He is one of only 13 coaches in NCAA Division I history to reach 200 victories in 255 games or less.
- Amassed a spectacular 12-year 134-74 league regular season record (115-57 Big East; 18-17 ACC).
- Tallied a 191-31 home record in his first 12 seasons as head coach.
- Became the first rookie head coach in Big East history to both guide his team to the league’s regular season title and earn Big East Coach of the Year honors in 2003-04. Dixon earned those accolades after leading the Panthers to the Big East regular season title and a school-record 31 wins, which ranks as the third highest total in NCAA Division I history for a first-year head coach. Dixon also led Pitt on an 18-game win streak to begin the season, a streak which ranks as the third-best start for a rookie head coach in NCAA Division I history.
- Guided Pitt to three top-10 percent rankings in the NCAA’s Academic Performance Ratings over the last four seasons (2013-14, 2011-12 and 2010-11).
An outstanding talent evaluator who is nationally recognized for his coaching know-how, unquestioned character and integrity, recruiting skills, rapport with players and work ethic, Jamie Dixon was introduced as the University of Pittsburgh’s 14th head basketball coach on April 15, 2003.
Dixon is a basketball coach who is intelligent, honest, confident, well-spoken and true to his word. He is a family man and complete coach who cares for his players and program to the highest degree. Under Dixon, student-athletes have consistently improved as players on the court and developed as citizens off the court. His players consistently graduate and the Pitt program continually achieves high APR scores. For Dixon, basketball is a lifestyle, not a job. He believes teamwork, offensive efficiency, defense, rebounding and taking good shots are the key ingredients to winning championships. That philosophy has paid off as Pitt consistently ranks among the nation’s top offensive, defensive and rebounding squads.
Dixon’s 12-year head coaching tenure at Pitt has seen the Panthers compile a remarkable 307-111 record, accumulate a 134-74 league regular season record and earn 10 NCAA Tournament berths and 12 postseason berths, including three Sweet Sixteen appearances (2004, 2007 and 2009) and one NCAA Regional Final (2009). He set an NCAA Division I all-time record for best start to a coaching career after eight seasons with his 216 victories and his .735 career winning percentage currently stands 10th nationally and the fifth-best among active Atlantic Coast Conference coaches. In addition, his .658 career Big East win percentage ranks as the best all-time mark in league play, surpassing Georgetown’s John Thompson, Connecticut’s Jim Calhoun, Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Louisville’s Rick Pitino and St. John’s Lou Carnesseca.
Dixon’s players at Pitt have excelled as well. Three (Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder; DeJuan Blair, Washington Wizards; Lamar Patterson, Atlanta Hawks) are currently playing in the NBA, while six have been selected in the NBA Draft. Four of his players have earned consensus All-America honors, 16 were All-Region honorees, 10 earned major league awards including four league Most Improved Player honorees, 18 have been named all-league selections and 15 have scored over 1,000 career points.
Over the past 16 seasons, Dixon has been the one constant and essential figure in the Panthers’ dramatic rise to national prominence. The three-year span from 2001-04 produced the winningest period in school history as Pitt won three consecutive Big East regular-season titles, advanced to three straight NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances, captured the program’s first Big East Tournament title in 2003 and compiled one of the nation’s three best winning percentages (.846 with an 88-16 record) from 2001-04 including a 51-2 home record. In addition, the program opened its sparkling, 12,508-seat Petersen Events Center, the nation’s best on-campus basketball venue.
Dixon has 24 years of major NCAA Division I coaching experience, including stints at Pitt (15 years), Northern Arizona (four years), Hawaii (three years) and UC-Santa Barbara (one year). Additionally, as an assistant coach, he served under a school’s winningest coach in four different stints (winning percentage). His teams have won a combined 10 conference titles, advanced to the postseason during 18 different seasons and his student-athletes have earned five league player of the year awards. He helped turn destitute programs at Pitt, Hawaii and Northern Arizona into winners and has experienced a high level of accomplishment at several different levels.
Facing a major rebuilding project, he joined the Pitt staff in 1999 as associate head coach and recruiting coordinator. In four short years, he helped turn the Pitt basketball program into a consistent national power. In 2000-01, the Panthers surged through the conference tournament, earning a surprising Big East Championship title game berth while winning five of their last seven contests. It was that year at Madison Square Garden that the college basketball world first took notice of the emerging Pitt program as the Panthers upset nationally ranked Syracuse, Notre Dame and a surging Miami team to earn the school’s first-ever championship game berth. That strong finish concluded with a National Invitation Tournament berth, the school’s first postseason appearance in four years.
The 2001-02 Pitt team built upon that momentum as it finished 29-6 and surpassed the school record of 25 victories set in 1973-74. Pitt won the Big East West championship, the school’s first league title of any kind since the 1987-88 campaign, and made its first NCAA Tournament appearance in nine seasons (1992-93). The squad also became the first Pitt team to advance to an NCAA Sweet Sixteen since 1973-74 with two NCAA tournament wins over Central Connecticut State and California.
With five starters and nine letterwinners back, the 2002-03 Pitt squad captured the school’s first Big East Tournament championship while making its third straight appearance in the title game. The team finished 28-5 on the year and advanced to its second consecutive NCAA Sweet Sixteen. The Panthers also won their second straight Big East West title and co-Big East regular-season title with a second consecutive 13-3 league record. In addition, the Panthers concluded the inaugural season in the Petersen Events Center with a perfect 16-0 home record and ended the season on a 22-game home win streak.
Prior to Pittsburgh, Dixon served as an assistant coach at the University of Hawaii under legendary head coach Riley Wallace for the 1998-99 season and previously was an assistant under Ben Howland at Northern Arizona University (1994-98). He also was an assistant with Howland at the University of California-Santa Barbara (1991-92) under Jerry Pimm before moving on to the University of Hawaii for two seasons (1992-94).
While at Northern Arizona, Dixon helped lead the Lumberjacks to a 42-17 record over his last two years, including back-to-back 21-win seasons and a pair of Big Sky regular season championships. Northern Arizona led the nation for three consecutive seasons (1997-99) in three-point field goal percentage and ranked among the nation’s top two schools in overall field goal percentage during that span. In addition, Northern Arizona won 20-plus games in three consecutive seasons and advanced to postseason play two times, including the 1997 NIT and the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 1998. The 1998 Lumberjack squad was one of two teams to reach the NCAA Tournament and carry a team grade point average of 3.0 or better.
Howland and Dixon arrived at Northern Arizona for the 1994-95 season. After suffering through back-to-back 9-17 and 7-19 seasons, the staff guided Northern Arizona to the 10th best one-year turnaround in NCAA Division I basketball history, improving the Lumberjacks to a 21-7 record in 1996-97.
Dixon completed his first stint as an assistant coach at the University of Hawaii from 1992-94 under head coach Riley Wallace. In 1993-94, he helped lead the Rainbows to their first WAC championship and first NCAA Tournament appearance in nearly 30 years. Dixon was also instrumental in developing the Rainbows’ perimeter players, including former Phoenix Suns guard and Buffalo, N.Y. native Trevor Ruffin. In his second stint at Hawaii (1998-99), he worked with the perimeter players, including former Denver Nugget Predrag Savovic, and concentrated on recruiting both nationally and abroad. At UC-Santa Barbara, Dixon helped lead the Gauchos to an NIT appearance in 1992.
Dixon began his coaching career in 1989 as the head coach at TeAute College in New Zealand before serving as an assistant coach from 1989-91 at Los Angeles Valley Junior College where he helped head coach Jim Stephens lead the school to a Western States Conference Championship.
A North Hollywood, Calif. native, Dixon attended Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Calif., where he earned All-Del Rey League and All-California Interscholastic Federation honors. Dixon enjoyed a successful four-year career at Texas Christian University where he played for Jim Killingsworth and led the Horned Frogs to two Southwest Conference titles as a junior and senior. He earned All-SWC honors in 1987 and was an All-SWC Academic performer. Additionally, he led the SWC in assists as a senior, earned the Henry Iba Award as MVP of the All-College Tournament and was voted TCU’s Senior Male Scholar-Athlete Award recipient. He was inducted into the TCU Athletic Hall of Fame in 2007. Dixon received his bachelor’s degree in finance from TCU in 1987 and earned a master’s degree in economics from UC-Santa Barbara in 1992.
Dixon was selected in the 1987 NBA draft by the Washington Bullets. He went on to play professionally with the Lacrosse Catbirds of the Continental Basketball Association and also in New Zealand before getting involved with collegiate coaching.
Dixon is married to the former Jacqueline Corteway. The couple has one son, Jack Connor, born June 2, 2002, and a daughter, Shannon Iwalani, born Feb. 25, 2004. His wife earned a Masters Degree in speech language pathology at the University of Pittsburgh in 2003.
The son of New York City natives Jim and Marge, Dixon spent much of his childhood in the Bronx. He has two sisters: the late Maggie Dixon, who served as head women’s basketball coach at the United States Military Academy, and Julie Dixon, who is a Los Angeles attorney.
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