Army coach Dixon in critical condition

Updated: April 6, 2006, 6:17 PM ET
By Andy Katz |

Army women's basketball coach Maggie Dixon, who led the Black Knights to their first NCAA Tournament berth last month in her first season, suffered an arrhythmia heart episode Wednesday at West Point, N.Y., and is in critical condition at the Westchester Medical Center, her brother Pittsburgh men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon said Thursday.

Heart Arrhythmia
Any disturbance in the normal beating pattern of the heart is called an arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat.

There are two main categories of arrhythmia: tachycardia, meaning too fast a heartbeat, and bradycardia, meaning too slow a heartbeat. (Both conditions refer only to exceptional elevations or depressions of heart rate, not to the normal variance that occurs throughout the day depending on whether you are resting or active.)

More information on heart arrhythmia can be found on

In a statement Dixon read to from the hospital, he said:

"Maggie and I had breakfast [Wednesday] and then she had a meeting with West Point athletic director Kevin Anderson. She then went to her house to meet friends for afternoon tea and said she wasn't feeling well and collapsed.

"She was immediately taken to Keller Army Hospital and then transferred to Westchester Medical Center where she is presently in critical condition. She's in the intensive care unit.

"Her mom, dad and sister Julie are here with her, too. Members of the Army women's basketball team were with her [Wednesday] morning.

"At this point there's no indication what caused the arrhythmia episode because by all accounts she was feeling well earlier in the day.

"Her family thanks everyone for their support and prayers and asks for continued respect and privacy.''

Maggie Dixon, who is 28, was hired just before the season started, leaving her post as the top assistant at DePaul. Dixon hired former Marist men's coach Dave Magarity as her top assistant and led the Black Knights to the Patriot League conference tournament title.

Army (20-11, 11-3 Patriot League) lost to Tennessee in the NCAA Tournament first round.

The North Hollywood, Calif., native had hoped to play in the WNBA after graduating in 1999 from the University of San Diego. But the Los Angeles Sparks cut her after a tryout in May 2000. She went into coaching with encouragement from her brother.

"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 held a number of positions under DePaul coach Doug Bruno after walking into his office and introducing herself. She eventually became his top assistant in May 2004.

Dixon and her brother Jamie were the first brother-sister combination to coach in the men's and women's basketball tournaments at the same time.

Maggie and Jamie are extremely close. Maggie was with Jamie at Big East media day in October and then was with him, sitting behind the Pitt bench, during the Big East tournament days after she earned the NCAA bid out of the Patriot League.

Just last Friday, Maggie was with Jamie and his family at the men's Final Four in Indianapolis. Maggie Dixon, who has an infectious smile, is also close with UCLA coach Ben Howland, who was Jamie's mentor and hired him at Northern Arizona and Pitt.

Andy Katz is a senior writer at The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Andy Katz | email

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