Funeral for Army coach Dixon to be held Tuesday

Updated: April 9, 2006, 7:51 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

A funeral service for Army women's basketball coach Maggie Dixon will be held Tuesday morning at St. Charles Church in North Hollywood, Calif., her hometown.

The DePaul and Army teams were to fly to California for the service and were expected to stay in the same hotel in order to share stories about Dixon. She was an assistant at DePaul before taking over the Black Knights.

Dixon, 28, died Thursday night at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, N.Y., following an "arrhythmic episode to her heart," academy spokesman Lt. Col. Kent Cassella said.

Army 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 was reportedly considering the offer, but an athletic department sponsor said Sunday there was no immediate word on the matter.

On Friday, Dixon was mourned in a chapel across from the U.S. Military Academy's campus.

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.

About 500 people filled the Catholic Chapel, including her family and players who remembered her as equal parts coach, big sister and best friend.

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 Thursday.

"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.

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 WebMD.com.

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.

Dixon 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.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.