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Dixon, 28, Dies After Collapse

Army women's coach, a Southland native, had suffered a heart problem a day earlier.

April 07, 2006|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Maggie Dixon, a 28-year-old Southern Californian who coached the Army women's basketball team to its first NCAA tournament appearance this season, died Thursday afternoon, a day after collapsing and being hospitalized, a source close to the family confirmed.

Dixon was taken to Westchester (N.Y.) Medical Center after suffering an "arrhythmic episode to her heart" Wednesday at the U.S. Military Academy, said her older brother, Pittsburgh men's Coach Jamie Dixon.

"She went to the house of a friend for afternoon tea, where she said she wasn't feeling good, and she collapsed," said Dixon, who read a prepared statement from the hospital while his sister was still in intensive care and before she died.

He said he had breakfast with his sister earlier Wednesday and that she had apparently been feeling well. Jamie Dixon declined to provide further details.

A memorial service is scheduled at West Point this afternoon.

Members of her family were with her when she died.

Dixon had no history of heart problems, the friend of the family said. She had attended the Final Four in Indianapolis with her brother, where there was no apparent indication of any health irregularities.

Army was Dixon's first head coaching job. She was hired in October, only 11 days before practice began, after the previous coach suddenly resigned. Six months later, Dixon led the team to its first berth in the women's tournament.

Under Dixon, Army won its first women's Patriot League regular-season championship, then won the conference tournament title with a 69-68 victory over league power Holy Cross. She led a team that had begun the season 7-7, then won 13 of its next 16 games.

The accomplishment gained extra attention because her brother also led Pittsburgh to the men's tournament.

The Dixons are believed to be the first brother and sister to coach in an NCAA tournament in the same year.

Army lost to No. 6 Tennessee in the first round, 102-54.

A native of North Hollywood who played at Sherman Oaks Notre Dame High, Maggie Dixon had hoped to play in the WNBA after graduating in 1999 from the University of San Diego. But the Sparks cut her after a tryout in May 2000.

Her brother encouraged her to go into coaching.

"He said, 'If you want to do this coaching thing, do something drastic,' " Dixon told the Associated Press last month. "That's what I did."

She walked into DePaul Coach Doug Bruno's office and introduced herself, was hired and held several positions. In May 2004, she became Bruno's top assistant.

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Times staff writer Diane Pucin contributed to this report.

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