TCU

TCU’s Jamie Dixon opens up on UCLA saga: ‘I’m very happy at TCU. Nothing’s changed.’

TCU men’s basketball coach Jamie Dixon has no complaints about how the events of the past week unfolded.

Dixon had been named as UCLA’s top target early last week, and reports stated he was in contract negotiations to become the next coach of the storied program in his hometown of Los Angeles.

But the deal didn’t come to fruition because of TCU’s refusal to negotiate a buyout “a little north” of $8 million.

Dixon doesn’t like talking publicly about job openings at other schools, and maintained that policy in an extended conversation Tuesday afternoon. But Dixon made it clear that he is pleased to still be coaching at TCU.

“I’m very happy,” said Dixon, who planned to spend Tuesday evening with assistants Ryan Miller and Duane Broussard and their families.

“We’ve always been happy. That’s the thing -- we’ve been happy the day we got here. We’ve been happy for three years now and nothing’s changed.

“I didn’t need to be more happier, if that’s a phrase, but I think that fits best in describing it. We’ve always been happy and continue to be so, and look forward to be so.”

But Dixon, 53, acknowledged coaching in his hometown had appeal. Without naming UCLA specifically, he said his and his wife’s parents are getting into their later years and being closer to them would have been enticing.

Dixon’s father, Jim, is not able to travel to as many games. His parents missed TCU’s appearance in the NIT semifinals earlier this month at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

“My wife’s and myself’s families are very important to us, and on both sides our parents are getting older,” Dixon said. “Our families are the most important thing to us, so that is always an ongoing responsibility that changes over time.

“My wife is an only child, and I have one sister that is still with us. So our parents, our families is a responsibility we have.”

UCLA would have provided an opportunity for Dixon and his wife to return home, although Dixon refuted the narrative that it was close to a “done deal.” UCLA named Cincinnati’s Mick Cronin as its next coach on Tuesday.

Asked if he ever thought he wouldn’t be TCU’s coach this past week, Dixon said: “I always think I’m coaching the team I’m coaching. We’re building every day for that. Every day I spend coaching the guys and looking at their futures.

“I would say that I’m always spending every day looking at the future of our players, our program.”

Dixon said his family and players were kept abreast of every development over the past week. Given the national brand UCLA is in basketball, it was hard to avoid the talk and reports linking Dixon to the program.

But Dixon spent the past week in Fort Worth, forgoing his usual trip to the Final Four for the first time “that I can remember.”

As far as his family, Dixon said: “That’s something, the speculation, I’ve been through that my entire career. We’ve had that pretty much from the start, specifically at Pittsburgh. That was nothing new. When I first started as head coach at Pitt, my son was just born so it’s all he’s known.”

As far as his players, Dixon said: “I’m always available for them. We talked Wednesday, Thursday. I was in town the whole week, talked to different guys. We were in constant conversation.”

Dixon also reiterated his belief in TCU brass, namely Chancellor Victor Boschini and athletic director Jeremiah Donati.

Boschini first broke the news of Dixon’s return to TCU 360.

“I don’t know if that’s normal, but the Chancellor and I have a very close relationship,” Dixon said. “He was the reason why I came down here.”

Dixon and Boschini developed a relationship before Dixon became the school’s head coach prior to the 2016-17 season. Dixon got to know Boschini when TCU initially headed to the Big East -- when Dixon was coaching at Pittsburgh -- before landing in the Big 12.

“There’s a relationship that goes far deeper than the three years I’ve been here,” Dixon said. “He’s our chancellor and he’s our friend.”

Boschini expressed similar gratitude toward Dixon on Monday, saying: “Jamie has unquestionable character and he has good skills. That’s a rare combination in the modern world.”

Boschini added that “longevity helps in all leadership positions” and is excited that Dixon is staying as coach. Dixon’s contract with TCU runs through the 2023-24 season.

Tennessee men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes had also been linked to the UCLA job, but Tennessee kept Barnes by giving him a more lucrative deal.

Dixon and TCU have not engaged in extending his contract past the 2023-24 season, despite Dixon drawing interest from a blue-blood program.

“Those are always ongoing, but this past week did not bring on any of those conversations,” Dixon said. “The conversations about me continuing to coach beyond this contract were being discussed prior to this week.”

Dixon has gone 68-41 in three seasons at TCU, leading the program to the NIT championship in his first season. Dixon and the Frogs snapped a 20-year NCAA Tournament drought last season, and were among the top “snubs” from the Big Dance this season.

TCU reached the NIT semifinals, falling to Texas at Madison Square Garden.

Dixon is ready to get back to work and get the Frogs back to the Big Dance. After all, he’s their coach.

“As always, excited about next season and the incoming guys and the development of our current players,” Dixon said. “We’ve set on quite a challenge to play and compete in the best league in the country. We’re excited about the opportunity.”

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