Autopsy shows Dixon had enlarged heart

4/14/2006 - Army Black Knights

WEST POINT, N.Y. -- A month ago, 28-year-old Army coach
Maggie Dixon left the Christl Arena court on the shoulders of
jubilant cadets after leading the women's basketball team to its
first NCAA Tournament berth.

On Friday, Dixon was mourned in a chapel across from the U.S.
Military Academy's campus, a day after she died following an
"arrhythmic episode to her heart."

Dixon died Thursday night at Westchester Medical Center in
Valhalla, N.Y., academy spokesman Lt. Col. Kent Cassella said.

West Point officials have expressed their desire to have Dixon buried at West Point, an honor usually reserved for high-ranking officials, ESPN has learned. The Dixon family may make a decision on the burial in the next 24 hours.

An autopsy conducted Friday found that Dixon had an enlarged
heart and a problem with a heart valve, according to the
Westchester County Medical Examiner's office. The valve problem
could have caused her heart to beat irregularly and ultimately stop.

West Point officials have expressed their desire to have Dixon buried at West Point, an honor usually reserved for high-ranking officials, ESPN has learned. The Dixon family may make a decision on the burial in the next 24 hours.

About 500 people filled the Catholic Chapel, including her
family and players who remembered her as equal parts coach, big
sister and best friend. On the cover of the memorial service
program was a picture of a beaming Dixon, her left index finger
jabbing skyward as she was carried off the court following the
historic win.

Those who spoke universally recalled Dixon's exuberance, humor
and the guidance she offered when things weren't going well.

"Adversity, ladies. How are you going to react?" guard
Adrienne Payne said in recalling one of Dixon's challenges to her

Cadets, who made up about three-quarters of the crowd, were
excused from classes to attend. It was somber and stoic, with few
tears and some laughter mixed in. In front of the altar was a
basketball, the Patriot League trophy they won last month and a
photo of the team.

Dixon was hospitalized Wednesday in critical condition after
suffering an "arrhythmic episode to her heart" at the school, her
older brother, Pittsburgh men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon, said

"Maggie touched so many people beyond basketball," Jamie Dixon
said in a subsequent statement released Friday by Pittsburgh. "Our
family has received an outpouring of sympathy from across the
country and we are deeply appreciative. As her older brother I know
she looked up to me. But I always looked up to her, too, and it's
obvious that a lot of other people did as well."

Dixon had said his sister collapsed and was taken to the
intensive care unit of Westchester Medical Center.

"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 on Thursday.

He said he had breakfast with his sister earlier Wednesday and
that she had apparently been feeling well.

Dixon's time at Army was short but significant.

She arrived at the storied military academy on the banks of the
Hudson River in October, just 11 days before the start of the
season and inherited a team that had gone 74-70 over the previous
five seasons. The team struggled at the beginning, before winning
nine of its last 11 games.

Just six months after Dixon took over, the 69-68 win over Holy
Cross in the Patriot League final put Army into the NCAA Tournament
for the first time. The rookie coach's accomplishment earned extra
acclaim because Jamie Dixon had taken Pitt to the men's tournament
at the same time. The Dixons are believed to be the first brother
and sister to coach in the NCAA Tournament in the same year.

"I believe she was having dreams of grandeur that we'd dunk on
Tennessee," forward Ashley Magnani said.

And, despite a 102-54 first-round loss to the Volunteers, things
were looking up for the Black Knights.

"I just loved the energy that Coach brought to practice every
day and the way she never gave up on us, always believed in us,"
guard Cara Enright said. "She would tell us to 'Use what you've
learned here at the academy and apply it to basketball.' "

Members of her team were with Dixon's family members at her
bedside Thursday.

West Point Superintendent Lt. Gen. William Lennox Jr. said the
entire community was heartbroken by her death.

"From the time Maggie arrived here, her enthusiastic 'no
limits' approach earned her the respect and love of everyone," he

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.

The Army team was expected to fly to California next week for
Dixon's funeral. Arrangements were not complete as of Friday