TCU

TCU, Pitt’s Dixon closing in on deal, sources say

Jamie Dixon has taken Pittsburgh to 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including three Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight. Dixon is under contract at Pitt until 2023 with a reported buyout of $10 million.
Jamie Dixon has taken Pittsburgh to 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including three Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight. Dixon is under contract at Pitt until 2023 with a reported buyout of $10 million. AP

Signs began to point Sunday to a growing connection between TCU and Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon in the school’s search for a men’s basketball coach, two sides who have tried before to get together.

A tweet from CBS reporter Gary Parrish indicated interest on Dixon’s part in the opening in Fort Worth.

At TCU, it is believed the feeling is mutual. Sources close to the discussions indicated Sunday night that the sides were closing in on a deal and that Dixon was trying to assemble a staff with Texas ties. An announcement could come Monday or Tuesday, one person close to the TCU program said.

Jamie Dixon, 50, is a former TCU player who has been the head coach at Pitt since 2003.

TCU apparently is willing to be competitive in a salary offer for Dixon, sources said. Dixon is under contract at Pitt until 2023. His buyout is believed to be $10 million. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said Dixon’s salary is $3.2 million.

Former TCU coach Trent Johnson made $1.66 million in 2013, according to the most recent publically available tax filing.

Dixon, 50, is a former TCU player who has been the head coach at Pitt since 2003 and has taken the Panthers to 11 appearances in the NCAA Tournament, including three Sweet 16s and an Elite Eight. This year’s Pitt team bowed out in the first round to Wisconsin.

TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte did not return messages for comment. He was not at the TCU baseball games Saturday and Sunday or at the TCU women’s NIT game Saturday night.

TCU is likely more attractive to Dixon now. The Horned Frogs have moved to the Big 12 and invested in facilities.

Del Conte and Dixon strengthened their relationship in 2011 when Dixon put in a good word for his former school when it was trying to join the Big East.

TCU reportedly tried and failed to hire Dixon four years ago, unable to work out a salary, before turning to Johnson. A source said Del Conte is taking bigger charge of the search this time than four years ago, working with a handful of trustees rather than a search firm.

TCU is likely more attractive to Dixon now. The Horned Frogs have moved to the Big 12 and invested in facilities. Pitt, meanwhile, has changed conferences, moving from the Big East to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Since moving to the ACC, the Panthers have been fifth and twice tied for ninth place.

TCU is moving quickly. The school fired Johnson on March 14, three days after the end of a 12-21 season.

Last week, the Frogs became the second Big 12 team with an opening when Oklahoma State and Travis Ford parted ways. TCU and Oklahoma State are believed to both be interested in Virginia Tech’s Buzz Williams. An industry source said last week that TCU had begun gathering information about Williams.

Carlos Mendez: 817-390-7760, @calexmendez

Jamie Dixon file

▪ In 13 seasons at Pittsburgh, has compiled 328-123 record.

▪ Led Panthers to 11 NCAA Tournaments, reaching Sweet 16 three times and Elite Eight once.

▪ Won two Big East regular-season titles and one tournament title.

▪ Played at TCU, helping lead the Horned Frogs to Southwest Conference titles in 1986 and 1987.

▪ Inducted into the TCU Hall of Fame in 2007.

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