Pitt's Dixon get's two-year extension

Pitt basketball coach Jamie Dixon signed a two-year contract extension Wednesday through the 2017-18 season, putting an end to weeks of growing speculation that the coach might leave for Oregon.

"Other people may have been nervous the last 48 hours about rumors," Pitt athletic director Steve Pederson said at a news conference. "I was never nervous about rumors over the last 48 hours."

Dixon, 44, said he agreed to the extension during the season after he was approached by the university, though he said he did not sign the deal until Wednesday.

"It was agreed to, which is good enough for me and good enough for them," he said.

Pederson said the announcement's timing had nothing to do with the Oregon rumors.

"This is unrelated to anything except performance and our desire for him to be the coach here a long time," he said.

Pitt sent out a media advisory two hours before the news conference. Pederson said that was the best time to release the news since Dixon is traveling to Indianapolis for the Final Four before hitting the recruiting trail.

Dixon dismissed the notion that the timing of the announcement and the Oregon speculation was anything more than coincidence.

"When is the right time, I guess would be the question," he said. "Every [extension] we've done has been this time of year. ... That there's jobs open and rumors out there, does that mean we don't do it during this time? I don't think that's the way to handle that."

Dixon had been mentioned as a potential Oregon target since the school fired 13-year coach Ernie Kent March 16. That speculation grew wildly the past week as Dixon was in New York at the same time as the head of Oregon's coaching search and after Dixon gave noncommittal answers on the radio about his future at Pitt.

"The easiest way to judge Jamie is by what he does, not what he says," Pederson said. "He has always been an absolute Pitt guy from the day he arrived on campus."

Dixon said Wednesday he has always been committed to Pitt and said that is something he might need to make clearer in public interviews.

"I know certain things get talked about, but I told Steve [Pederson] and [executive vice chancellor] Jerry Cochran that I'm not going anywhere and this is where I want to be. This is where I always hope to be," Dixon said.

It was the second high-profile contract extension at Pitt in two days. Football coach Dave Wannstedt received a two-year extension Tuesday, keeping him under contract through the 2014 season.

Terms of Dixon's deal were not disclosed, and Pederson would not say if Dixon's salary will increase with the extension. Dixon was making more than $1.5 million in his previous deal, which ran through the 2015-16 season.

Dixon has been at Pitt since 1999, the first four years as an assistant under Ben Howland. In seven years under Dixon, the Panthers are 188-54 with one Big East Conference regular-season championship, a conference tournament championship and one appearance in the Elite Eight. That record has made Dixon an attractive candidate for many coaching vacancies.

"I've been here 11 years," Dixon said. "I don't know if these things will ever stop. It's either one way or the other -- they're getting rid of you or they're talking about you going someplace else."

Pederson said he never wants to see Dixon go, one way or the other.

"I told Jamie I'd like to never hire another basketball coach," he said.

Michael Sanserino: msanserino@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1722. First Published April 1, 2010 4:00 AM


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