"I love Pitt, I love Pittsburgh and I always will," Dixon told Paul Zeise of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, confirming the move. "The fans loved me and my family. I was 17 years at Pitt, that is a long, long time in today's game. TCU was a great opportunity for me to get a fresh start."
TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte shared a picture of Dixon after he arrived on campus:
Look who's coming Home 🐸👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/YIavUR8SC3— Chris Del Conte (@_delconte) March 21, 2016
TCU relayed Dixon's quotes from his press conference Tuesday:
"Dreams do come true." First words from Coach Dixon at today's event. #DixonComesHome— TCU Basketball (@TCUBasketball) March 22, 2016
"This felt right. I've seen what TCU was, what it is now and I know what it can be. There's no doubt in my mind we can win championships."— TCU Basketball (@TCUBasketball) March 22, 2016
"I'm excited about the team. This is no rebuilding project. We can win now." #DixonComesHome— TCU Basketball (@TCUBasketball) March 22, 2016
"I know it can be done here. The coaches here have already proven that. Everything is in place." #DixonComesHome— TCU Basketball (@TCUBasketball) March 22, 2016
Dixon has spent the last 13 years at Pitt, compiling a 328-123 overall record. The Panthers' ascension began under Ben Howland, who took the school to the Sweet 16 in 2002 and 2003. During Dixon's tenure, they've been a fixture in the Big Dance, making 11 appearances.
TCU, meanwhile, hasn't reached the NCAA tournament since exiting in the first round in 1997-98.
While many would consider moving to the Horned Frogs a drop in prestige for the 50-year-old, he has ties to the school. He graduated from TCU and played for the basketball team from 1984 to 1987. Adam Zagoria of SNY.tv also reported TCU is willing to throw a lot of money his way:
Pitt coach Jamie Dixon is strongly considering taking the TCU job, source confirms to @SNYtv 'They're offering to double his salary.'— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 21, 2016
Dixon's total compensation for 2014 was $3.2 million—$1.4 million in base pay, with $1.7 million in incentives—per tax documents obtained by Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Pittsburgh athletic director Scott Barnes confirmed to the Pitt News' Dan Sostek that Dixon had a buyout and that the school "softened" it to release Dixon to the Horned Frogs.
"A new era in Pitt basketball begins, earnestly," Barnes told Sostek.
Vice Sports' Kevin Trahan said financial power could help TCU and others bridge the gap between themselves and the college basketball elite:
Football money should redefine how we think of basketball jobs. TCU has it. And it's why VT > Marquette for Buzz.— Kevin Trahan (@k_trahan) March 21, 2016
One could argue the Panthers stagnated a bit in Dixon's final few years. They failed to advance past the round of 32 in their past five NCAA tournament appearances. With that said, the Horned Frogs couldn't have found a better hire to potentially take them to national prominence.
Never in Dixon's 13 years did Pitt finish with a losing record. During the same time frame, TCU posted just three winning seasons.
While the success of the football program has put pressure on the basketball team to win, the athletic department will also hope Dixon's arrival will get the fanbase on board and fill Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena, which recently received a $72 million renovation.
It's likely the Horned Frogs' top seven scorers all will return, so between getting Dixon and the talent coming back to the team, TCU could take big steps forward in 2016-17. Earning an NCAA tournament berth might not be an unrealistic expectation.
For Pitt, replacing Dixon won't be easy. Chris Dokish of the blog Panther's Prey threw out three names the school should pursue:
Pitt calls, in order:— Chris Dokish (@ChrisDokish) March 21, 2016
1. Sean Miller
2. Archie Miller
3. Chris Mack
If that doesn't work out, I have about a dozen lesser names.
CBSSports.com's Sam Vecenie wondered if Barnes might make use of his experience out West:
Where Pitt goes from here is fascinating. So many different directions, plus remember AD is from Pac-12/MWC country.— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 21, 2016
The Panthers could be in a difficult position. While they play in one of the country's top conferences—the ACC—they aren't considered a major college basketball power. ESPN.com's Jeff Borzello also thinks the ACC's strength might work against Pitt:
For what it's worth, I don't think Archie Miller is taking Pitt either. Not sure it's even a top-half job in the ACC.— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) March 21, 2016
The cupboard won't be bare for Dixon's successor despite Pitt's 2016 recruiting class sitting 77th in 247Sports' composite rankings. Forwards Michael Young, Jamel Artis and Sheldon Jeter, who accounted for 38.2 points and 16.5 rebounds per game, are all juniors. Losing senior guard James Robinson will leave a hole in the backcourt, though.
In the event the school is unable to lure a big name such as Arizona's Sean Miller or Xavier's Chris Mack, it could end up gambling on a coach who hasn't been tested on the kind of stage Pittsburgh will provide.
While there's every chance a new coach can reinvigorate the program, a return to the pre-Howland years is equally possible.