Dusty May takes over at Michigan, leaving Florida Atlantic after 6 seasons and a Final Four run

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FILE - Florida Atlantic head coach Dusty May claps hands with guards Johnell Davis (1) and Nicholas Boyd (2) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Nov. 14, 2023, in Boca Raton, Fla. May's hiring was announced Sunday, March 24, 2024 by Michigan, a move that brings him back to his Big Ten roots and ends his six-season stint that included a Final Four run a year ago at Florida Atlantic. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, file)

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The lure of Michigan became apparent to Dusty May not in the last few days, but almost 20 years ago when he was just starting his coaching career.

He was an assistant at Eastern Michigan then and quickly realized Michigan’s logo — the famed block M — was something that people took enormous pride in being associated with. And when Michigan offered him a chance to wear it, he couldn’t say no.

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May was announced as the new coach at Michigan on Sunday, agreeing to a five-year contract worth almost $19 million, the school said. He leaves Florida Atlantic after six seasons, highlighted by a Final Four run a year ago and more wins in the last two years than almost anyone nationally.

“This place allowed me to be extremely selective, to take the job that was the perfect fit,” May told The Associated Press. “I would never feel any remorse if I was at FAU forever. I almost wanted these other jobs to go away, to get filled, so I wouldn’t have a decision to make.”

The deal with Michigan was done Saturday night, one day after FAU lost to Northwestern in the NCAA Tournament. May brought players at his now-former school in for a series of team and individual meetings on Sunday morning, saying afterward those talks were “extremely tough.”

“For almost two decades, Dusty May’s proven track record as a winner, including Florida Atlantic’s magical run to a 2023 Final Four, speaks volumes about him and his coaching,” Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel said. “We are so delighted to welcome Dusty, and his family, to the University of Michigan. He embodies the values of high integrity and outstanding character, coupled with an unparalleled understanding of the game of basketball.”

The 47-year-old May replaces Juwan Howard, a former Michigan star who was fired after five seasons with the Wolverines. Howard went 82-67 with two NCAA Tournament appearances, but the Wolverines went 8-24 this season — the school's worst record since 1960-61.

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 an additional $25,000 for making the NCAA Tournament. FAU is due a $1 million buyout now that May has decided to leave.

“The University of Michigan has hired a phenomenal basketball coach and an even better person,” FAU athletic director Brian White said. “In addition to his historic level of competitive success, Dusty built a world-class culture within our men’s basketball program; operating with a high level of integrity and representing our university and athletics department with dignity and class.”

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 Sunday, the only Division I men’s programs with more victories in that span were Houston (64) and defending national champion UConn (63). FAU has the fifth-best record of all Division I men's teams in that stretch at 60-13, behind only Houston (64-8), Purdue (59-10), UConn (63-11) and Charleston (58-12).

May had that sort of success at a school with a $33 million budget for the entire athletic department. Michigan's planned athletics budget for this academic year is $215 million.

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 and 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.

May said he wants to see FAU keep winning.

“I want to turn on a game next year and see 3,000 fans going crazy for those guys on the court, those guys in the locker room, and continue to build on something that’s special,” May said. “It’s different here. It’s unique. You have athletics to invigorate a student population, and that’s happened here.”

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

And now he goes back to the Big Ten, only in maize and blue. He had Michigan ties already; his son Eli was born there when May worked at Eastern Michigan.

“That’s when I realized the magnitude of the block M, how powerful it was, how much pride people have in that symbol,” May said. “Today, in this NIL era where everything is becoming almost completely transactional, that Michigan is still a place that has transformational values. NIL is important, but to me personally, I felt like everyone associated with that M had so much pride in it. That's why this was the fit."


AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-mens-bracket and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness

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