Dixon Gets Contract Extension

Steve Pederson made it clear Thursday that men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon did not ask for a contract extension, but his interest in staying at Pitt and the athletics director's desire to keep him led to a three-year addition to the current pact to keep the coach with the Panthers through the 2015-16 season.

Jamie Dixon is 132-40 in five seasons as the head coach at Pittsburgh, and he begins his 10th year overall with the Panthers.

"This contract extension is all about commitment, our commitment to Jamie and his commitment to the University of Pittsburgh,'' Pederson said. "Jamie has risen to the top of his profession in a very short period of time. He is deserving of this commitment by the University for establishing Pitt Basketball as one of the nation's premier programs.

"Jamie has built the Pitt program the right way, with high-quality student-athletes, tremendous character and upstanding values. The best days for Pitt basketball lie ahead. On a personal note, it is a pleasure to work side by side with such a fine man.''

Pitt chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg also commented.

"Five years ago, we gave a young, but extraordinarily capable and committed, head coach the opportunity to lead our men's basketball program, which he had helped move onto the national stage, to even higher levels of quality and impact,'' Nordenberg said. "Under Jamie Dixon's leadership, that program has secured a position as one of the country's finest.

"(It is) widely respected for its success in competition, its high-quality student-athletes, and its strong guiding values. Jamie Dixon not only is one of college basketball's best coaches, he also is one of our University's best representatives. Today's announcement is a clear reflection of our shared desire to have him continue in those roles for many years to come.''

Dixon's last extension was more than two years ago, late March, 2006, when his salary -- believed initially have been the lowest among Big East coaches -- more than doubled to nearly $1.3 million last season. Terms were not available for this current extension, but Dixon should surpass the $2 million mark by its end.

Still, Dixon noted that it won't change him or his family.

"And it doesn't change what we're trying to do here at Pitt,'' Dixon said. "We can tell recruits now that we're certainly secure for the long term here. (And) we're very thankful for that.''

Dixon's accomplishments have been well-documented, two Big East titles -- the 2004 regular-season and 2008 tournament crowns -- two NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances (2004 and 2007) and five consecutive NCAA Tournament births, five straight 20-win seasons overall and 10-win Conference campaigns. Pitt has played in four Big East Tournament title games in his five seasons.

Dixon's 132 career victories rank tied for third among all-time NCAA Division I coaching starts through five seasons. He also concluded the 2007-08 season as the winningest coach in Big East history with a current .680 winning percentage in Conference games (66-31). Legendary coaches like Georgetown's John Thompson, Connecticut's Jim Calhoun, Syracuse's Jim Boeheim and St. Johns' Lou Carnesseca follow.

"Hall of Famers,'' Dixon said when mentioned in the same sentence with those guys, "and a great group of coaches. Their tenure at those schools is a tribute to a commitment by both parties, and that's what we have here. ... Hopefully, I'm able to convey that. I'm thankful to (everybody) for this opportunity.

"Steve came into my office a couple weeks ago and told me that he wanted to keep me here a long time, and I want to give you a contract (extension). I told him that was good, and then we went to lunch. (But) I can't tell you how happy I am to be here, (and) it's where we plan to be for a long, long time.''

Dixon recalled that he was on the recruiting trail in New York recently and told the player that he would be at Pitt for the long haul because he just signed a new contract. When he returned to school, Pederson informed him that he wanted to keep the new deal quiet for a while.

"I got that out,'' Dixon joked. "(But) there are different things out there and things are said, but while it hasn't changed us it can affect things outside. I got a text (Wednesday) from Levance congratulating me, so it must have gotten from the recruit to him. But he wouldn't tell me how he found out.''

Fields said he told Dixon that he knows everything that goes on at Pitt, but he would not comment on his injury. No other players were made available.

Pitt returns three of five starters -- Seniors Sam Young and Levance Fields and sophomore DeJuan Blair -- each of its top three scorers and seven of its top 10 lettermen.

The Panthers should be ranked among the nation's top 10 in virtually every preseason poll. Pitt officially begins practice Friday, Oct. 17.

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