Jamie Dixon Hire Is TCU AD Chris Del Conte’s Latest Savvy Move

    The Jamie Dixon hire is TCU and athletic director Chris Del Conte's latest savvy move. The resources are already in place. Now, too, is the coach.

    March 21, 2016

    TCU hiring Jamie Dixon to be the program’s head basketball coach is the latest fantastic move by athletic director Chris Del Conte.

    After 13 seasons as head coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers, Jamie Dixon is headed home. On Monday afternoon news broke that Dixon would become the new head basketball coach for Texas Christian University, his alma mater.

    While the reveal caught many off guard, anyone who has followed TCU athletics for the past half decade should hardly be surprised. Landing Dixon is the latest savvy maneuver by Horned Frogs athletic director Chris Del Conte.

    Del Conte, the 2014-15 NACDA Athletic Director of the Year, has been nothing short of aggressive while positioning his program to become one of the top in the nation. Consider that when he was hired in 2009, TCU was a Mountain West school with an overachieving football program and an underrated coach in Gary Patterson. At the time, the football program was considered a BCS buster and Patterson a flight risk for a larger, more heralded institution with deeper pockets.

    Since that time, Del Conte has ushered TCU from the Mountain West to the greener (see: more lucrative) pastures of the Big 12, kept Patterson happy (see: paid handsomely) and thus changed the perception of his program from flash in the pan to perennial title threat. Depending on your feelings regarding Baylor, TCU is unquestionably one of the top two football programs in the nation’s richest pigskin state, Texas. This notion is something that, 10 years ago, would have been unfathomable.

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    And now there’s the signing of Dixon, a proven coach who, if anything, is underrated, if not under-appreciated. During his 13 years at Pittsburgh, Dixon missed the NCAA Tournament only twice, and won fewer than 20 games only once. His teams, on average, won 25 games per season, claimed two Big East regular season titles and one Big East Tournament championship. If there’s a knock on Dixon, it’s that his teams couldn’t get over the hump in March – Pitt only reached the second weekend of March Madness three times (and only one Elite Eight) during Dixon’s tenure.

    Having a program that “only” gets to the tournament’s first or second round is a problem that TCU would embrace with open arms. This is a program coming off a 12-21 campaign, one that hasn’t seen the NCAA Tournament since 1997-98 and hasn’t won an NCAA Tournament game since 1987 (a game where Dixon was, coincidentally, the team’s third-leading scorer).

    Bringing Dixon aboard is perfect timing for Del Conte and TCU. The program will unveil a $75 million renovation for its basketball arena next season, so having a coach with a proven track record of success aboard will surely make all those big-money boosters happy. The renovation is the second-largest construction effort under Del Conte’s watch, with the first being a $164 million revamp to Amon G. Carter Stadium (uncoincidentally, that coincided with TCU’s first season in the Big 12).

    Patterson has proven that the school can find success among the big boys of the Big 12. If TCU can compete among the likes of Texas and Oklahoma on the gridiron, then there’s no reason it can’t rattle the establishment on the hardwood. After all, there’s more room for upward mobility in basketball. Outside of Kansas, the Big 12’s roundball hierarchy is ever-changing – Iowa State, Baylor, West Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma. Why not slot in TCU. The resources are already in place. Now, too, is the coach.

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