Former TCU player Jamie Dixon walked on to the stage in the building where he once hit a game-winning shot.
He promised more of the same.
“We are here to win. We are here to win right now. And we are here to win the right way,” the Horned Frogs’ new basketball coach said Tuesday at his introductory press conference at Schollmaier Arena, the renovated former Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, where his 30-foot shot at the last second defeated Texas in a 1986 game.
It helped the Frogs tie for the Southwest Conference championship, one of only three league titles for the school in the 30 years since.
But he said more championships can be won.
“I always had that dream to come back,” he said. “You play at a place, win championships, have success. I remember that time. I see that. I know it can happen.”
You play at a place, win championships, have success. I remember that time. I see that. I know it can happen.
TCU coach Jamie Dixon
Dixon’s hiring was announced Monday by TCU, his alma mater, which pulled him out of a 10-year contract at Pitt to return to Fort Worth. He was given a six-year contract and put in charge of turning TCU’s basketball fortunes around in the rugged Big 12, where predecessor Trent Johnson won only eight games in four years.
Financial terms were not disclosed. Dixon made $3.2 million per year with incentives at Pitt. Johnson made $1.66 million per year at TCU.
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte helped negotiate a reduced buyout of Dixon’s contract at Pitt. It was reportedly $10 million. Pitt athletic director Scott Barnes said his school “softened” the buyout.
Del Conte said he was given freedom by the board of trustees to do what was necessary financially to land the TCU alum.
“We had the blessing to do what we need to do to be successful at TCU,” Del Conte said.
We wanted Jamie for a long time. He was ready to come home, and we were ready for him.
TCU donor Ed Schollmaier
Dixon is TCU’s 22nd coach. He is a member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame, having been inducted in 2007.
TCU donor Ed Schollmaier said Dixon was the No. 1 candidate.
“We wanted Jamie for a long time,” Schollmaier said. “He was ready to come home, and we were ready for him. If he hadn’t worked out, we would have had to scramble a little bit.”
Del Conte said: “Today is a day we’ve been dreaming of for a long time. I feel like we’ve assembled the best coaching staff in the country.”
Dixon, who won 328 games in 13 seasons at Pittsburgh, said he was impressed by TCU administrators. “I trust them. I see what they’ve done. I know what TCU was, and I know what it’s become.”
Dixon was 328-123 at Pitt and took the Panthers to 11 NCAA tournament appearances in 13 years. TCU has been to seven total and none since 1998.
I like the incoming recruits. I like the guys they have coming back. And I expect to win right away. I told them, this is no rebuilding job.
TCU coach Jamie Dixon
“I like the players that are here,” he said. “I like what they have. I like the incoming recruits. I like the guys they have coming back. And I expect to win right away. I told them, this is no rebuilding job.”
TCU returns all but one player from last season’s 12-21 team and expects to get another, Kenrich Williams, back from injury. Alex Robinson, a transfer from Texas A&M, and high school signee Josh Parrish are also expected.
Dixon credited Johnson, calling him a person of high character and integrity and said the former coach left toughness and physicality in the team. “All those things are in place,” he said.
Jamie Dixon averaged more than 25 wins per season at Pitt. He was given a six-year contract by TCU.
Dixon’s hiring resonated across the Big 12. Kansas coach Bill Self, whose team has won or shared 12 consecutive Big 12 titles, said, “I’m positive that their fan base is very excited about having one of its own return. I feel bad for Trent, because I think he’s a terrific guy and did a good job. Certainly moving forward, I think that TCU is in really good hands.”
West Virginia coach Bob Huggins noted the addition of Dixon by TCU and Brad Underwood by Oklahoma State to the conference.
“Jamie was responsible for bringing back Pitt basketball and making them relevant again,” Huggins said. “The Big 12 Conference just got much harder.”