Dixon Classic to be held at the Garden

She's gone, but certainly not forgotten. No, we will never forget Maggie Dixon, who left us way too soon. The West Point community will always remember her, honor her, keep her memory alive in many different ways. This winter, Dixon will be honored at the mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden in New York.

The second annual Maggie Dixon Classic will be held at on Dec. 8 at MSG with a women's basketball doubleheader featuring Rutgers, Duke, Pitt and Army. It is the first women's doubleheader there since 1981, when Rutgers, Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion and Cheyney State all played.

Dixon's brother, Jamie, head men's basketball coach at Pitt, said that MSG approached the family about hosting the event last year. But he said they felt the first Maggie Dixon should be held at West Point.

"The next one should be at Madison Square Garden since that's where all of basketball starts," Dixon said.

Maggie Dixon died April 6, 2006 of arrhythmia, probably caused by an enlarged heart. Her death came a month shy of her 29th birthday and three weeks after her first season as head coach. Her performance that made her a shooting star in the business.

In fact, she already began getting offers to leave Army.

Dixon led Army to its first NCAA tournament berth and was named Patriot League coach of the year. The Black Knights went 20-11 and lost to Tennessee 102-54 in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Just 18 days after that game, she was gone. Eight days after her tragic death, Maggie Dixon was laid to rest beneath a dark-gray cloudy sky at West Point Cemetery. The West Point burial with full military honors, typically reserved for high-ranking officials and war heroes, says a lot for the impact Dixon made in her short time at the Academy.

National runner-up Rutgers will face Army in one game and Duke will meet Pitt in the other. "I don't think you could have picked four better teams with the tradition of their programs,'' Dixon said. "The hope is to make this the premier women's basketball event.'' Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said she is honored to play and the Classic is special because of Dixon.

"She embodied all that is good about this profession,'' Stringer said. First-year Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie added: "Maggie set such a high standard in all that she did,'' she said.

The inaugural Maggie Dixon classic was held at West Point last season, a men's and women's doubleheader. Pitt's men's team beat Western Michigan and Ohio State routed Army. But the highlight of the day was a touching ceremony in which Dixon's parents, sister Julie Dixon-Silva and Jamie Dixon were presented with a ring commemorating the 2005-06 Patriot League championship. Banners honoring that title and Maggie's selection as conference coach of the year were displayed at Christl Arena. There were few dry eyes in the house. Unfortunately, Jamie Dixon said he won't be able to make the event at MSG, but his parents will be on hand.

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