FAU’s May headed to Michgan as new men’s coach

Published 10:32 pm Saturday, March 23, 2024

BOCA RATON, Fla. (AP) — Dusty May is going to Michigan and leaving Florida Atlantic after six seasons that were highlighted by a Final Four run last season, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said Saturday night.

May and the Wolverines were in the process of finalizing a contract, according to the person who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because Michigan had yet to announce the hiring. ESPN first reported the agreement.

May will replace Juwan Howard, who was fired after five seasons with the Wolverines.

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The speculation about May’s future started long before now — it really has been a constant for more than a year. He was touted as a rising coaching candidate last season after a 20-game win streak thrust FAU into the national spotlight for the first time. And then the NCAA run to the Final Four, where the Owls were a bounce away from making it to the national championship game against Connecticut, only further validated the sense that May was ready for the biggest of big time.

FAU did what it could last year to keep May, signing him shortly after the Final Four run to a 10-year extension. He earned $1.25 million in base salary this season, plus another $25,000 for making the NCAA tournament. FAU is due a $1 million buyout now that May has decided to leave.

May got questions about his future for the last several weeks, including when FAU lost to Northwestern on Friday in the first round of the NCAA tourney. His stance never wavered: His plan was to listen to those who called, then decide what was best.

And Michigan evidently made him the offer that he couldn’t decline.

May went 126-69 in his six years at Florida Atlantic, finishing with winning records in each of those seasons — and seeing the victories really pile up in the last two years. The Owls went 35-4 last season on their way to the Final Four and finished this season at 25-9.

That’s 60 wins in the last two years; entering this weekend, the only Division I men’s programs with more victories in that span were Houston (64) and defending national champion UConn (63). And FAU’s home record in that stretch of 30-1 tied Drake for the best at the Division I men’s level, with all those games being sellouts in Boca Raton — such a hot ticket that students would line up for hours to get into some of those contests, something that the school hadn’t seen before.

Countless “firsts” in FAU basketball history came on May’s watch, such as first NCAA Tournament win, first 25-win season, first AP Top 25 appearance, first Final Four. FAU had exactly one season with 20 wins before May came along; the Owls have three now, after he was able to lure big-time talent to Boca Raton and play in a 3,000-seat arena that doubles as the practice court, a place where the orange paint is chipped off many of the rims and without many of the amenities that top programs can boast.

Put another way: May had more winning seasons at FAU (six) than the school had in its first 25 years of Division I play before he arrived combined (five).

FAU was May’s first stop as a head coach. He was previously an assistant at Florida, Louisiana Tech, UAB, Murray State and Eastern Michigan, started his coaching career as an administrative assistant and video coordinator at USC — and before all that, graduated from Indiana where he was a manager under Bob Knight.