Why Dusty May chose Michigan basketball head coach job over Louisville

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — To call it a whirlwind is an understatement. Dusty May was the head coach of Florida Atlantic basketball on Friday evening and by Saturday evening, he was the head coach of the storied Michigan Wolverines program, the 18th in school history.

So how did it all happen from his perspective?

Coming off of a Final Four year with FAU, the Owls were an 8-seed facing off against 9-seed Northwestern in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Playing in Brooklyn, FAU lost to the Wildcats in overtime, and from that moment, the whirlwind started in earnest.

He traveled back to Florida and before long heard that Michigan was interested in him filling its vacancy.

“Walking off the floor — wow, a range of emotions,” May said. “It had been such a challenging season and I don’t say that in a negative way. And typically when your season ends, you feel like you’re going to collapse, you’re emotionally fatigued. You’re just ready for the next chapter, which usually is recruiting and retention and planning meetings.

“I think it was the net that night or the next morning, I get a text from my agent Andy. And he said, ‘Michigan would like to meet in person. We have to work out some logistics.’ So we worked out the logistics. It was Saturday, Saturday evening. We got back at 1 or 2 am Friday night, Saturday evening, drove to Fort Lauderdale, and met with Warde, Doug, Chad at Turnkey, and Andy, myself — and had a great conversation. And I probably showed my hand too early because this was the place that I wanted to be.”

It was a huge shock to the college basketball world that May ended up in Ann Arbor because all of the online speculation all day on Saturday was that he was Louisville-bound. Steeped in basketball tradition, the Cardinals appeared set to hire May as their first choice — it was seen as a done deal.

However, Warde Manuel and the University of Michigan athletic department made a strong, late push, even getting former head coach John Beilein involved in the process.

So, why did May turn Louisville down? It’s as simple as Michigan, he felt, is a better fit.

“Louisville is an unbelievable basketball school. But this was the right fit for me, my family, and it just felt right,” May said. “And I’m a big feel guy, I’m a big fit guy. And from day one, this was one that I just thought would match me and allow me and those around me to have the highest level of success doing it the way that we enjoy doing it.”

May landed in metropolitan Detroit on Sunday and wasted no time. He was supposed to go with his family back to his hotel, but he couldn’t wait. He instead asked if he could see the facilities, as the former Eastern Michigan assistant hasn’t been on campus in Ann Arbor since 2006.

“I think we came here while we were going to the hotel. And I said to them, ‘Well, we don’t have a lot of time. But let’s go ahead and go check out the facilities and tour campus,’” May said. “It’s been a while since I was here. And we walked in and we took about eight detours. So I see the practice facility and the weight rooms, football stadium. So the first thing we did was come here and really get a tour of the place and meet all the people that were here.”


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