The world has not heard much from Juan Dixon since he was dismissed as head basketball coach at Coppin State. The Baltimore native and University of Maryland legend — he starred for the Terps’ 2002 national title team — did not land another job in college basketball after leading the Eagles to a 51-131 record over six seasons.
The return of Bravo’s “Real Housewives of the Potomac,” featuring his wife Robyn Dixon, does give us some insight into how he’s processing the change, though.
It also set off a frenzy of internet searches due to some, uhhhh, creative license exercised by the ... have we come up with a word for people who make “reality” TV yet? Documentarian doesn’t feel quite right, if we’re being honest.
Anyway, let’s explore.
Tell us about this creative license first, that’s the juicy stuff
Sure, let’s start there. After a brief discussion about issues related to infidelity, which appears to be the primary topic of discussion between these two and the show in general, Robyn says to Juan: “Just checking in with you, how are you doing since ...”
Her pregnant pause is interrupted by Juan saying, “What, work?” And he says, “I’m cool.”
That’s when the following headline appears on the screen.
Oh, word? That’s crazy!
Well, slow down. It’s also highly misleading. And, as far as I can tell, it’s not a real headline. A website called Reality Blurb used something like it, but let’s all be in agreement here: Sites covering reality TV should not feed into the plot lines of reality TV. The cycle must stop somewhere, or it endangers us all.
Dixon has, in fact, been named in a lawsuit related to sexual assault. There’s blackmail involved, too! The Banner covered it a year ago, when the accusation from a former Coppin State player, Ibn Williams, first surfaced: Ex-Coppin State basketball player alleges sexual assault, blackmail in lawsuit.
That story is worth a read, but the gist is this: Williams alleges that he was catfished by a former teammate, Lucian Brownlee, who eventually became part of Dixon’s staff. According to the complaint, Brownlee posed as a woman, convinced Williams to send him provocative photos, then used the threat of releasing those photos publicly to coerce Williams into sexual acts with Brownlee.
The lawsuit argues that Dixon — and others at Coppin State — knew the alleged abuser was a problem and should have done more to protect Williams, but instead endangered him further by promoting Brownlee.
That would definitely get a guy fired, right?
No. Coppin State has vigorously defended itself, Dixon and another employee — athletic director Derek Carter — against the accusations. So much so that Carter, Dixon and the university were dismissed from the suit in late July.
And Carter remains employed. In fact, he’s the one who fired Dixon.
So what’s the truth here?
The truth is Juan Dixon did not win enough.
He hints at this in the episode: “I felt like I love my job, I was passionate about my job, but I guess we didn’t win enough basketball games.”
There’s no guessing needed.
It’s hard to win at Coppin State, which doesn’t have anywhere near the resources of its peers. According to the latest from the Equity in Athletics Data Analysis, Coppin spent $738,385 on men’s basketball. Morgan State spent $1,778,323, Towson $1,778,323 and the University of Maryland — wait for it — $16,352,454.
The game was rigged against Dixon, clearly. To help fund the rest of the athletic department, his team would be asked to play “guarantee” games against much larger schools that would essentially pay the Eagles to be easy early-season competition.
But, still: Dixon did not win enough. Legendary Eagles coach Fang Mitchell had a record of 429–417. Dixon, meanwhile, had a record of 37–51 in MEAC conference play, with only one winning season.
That’s why he was fired.
But he’s been cleared of those accusations, right?
As you’ll note if you read the story about Dixon being dismissed from the suit, the judge also said Williams would be able to file an amended complaint. He did, according to my colleague Dylan Segelbaum, and it again included Dixon (and Carter and Coppin State), and has since moved to federal court.
Lawyers representing Dixon filed a motion to dismiss late last week, however, arguing that Dixon and Carter should be immune from the suit.