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FAU to Elite 8: is Dusty May too good for Penn State Basketball?

FAU has gone on a historic run to the Elite 8 this season. But does the Owls’ on-court success put Dusty May out of reach for the Penn State basketball coaching job?



Penn State basketball, Dusty May, FAU, Elite 8
Mar 23, 2023; New York, NY, USA; Florida Atlantic Owls head coach Dusty May watches from the sideline in the game against the Tennessee Volunteers in the first half at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

State College — Penn State faces a crossroads as it searches for its new basketball coach. Should it make an internal hire, shoot for a savvy veteran, or snag an up-and-comer from the mid-major level? Ultimately, the decision will shape the course of Penn State basketball for years to come. Already a hot name in coaching circles, Dusty May has shot up short lists as his FAU Owls have made a historic run to the Elite 8 this season. But as FAU continues to have on-court success, does this now make May unattainable in the Penn State coaching search?

Dusty May is already one of the most accomplished coaches in FAU history

Dusty May has experienced remarkable success in his first five years as a head coach. Previously serving as an assistant at Florida and Louisiana Tech, among other stops, May was hired to run the FAU program in 2018. Admittedly a tough challenge, May has already made the Owls a consistent winner. He recorded 30 D-1 wins by his second season on campus, becoming the fastest coach in program history to attain that milestone. May is also the only FAU coach to have four consecutive winning seasons.

This season has been the most successful year in FAU history by far. The Owls finished the regular season 28-3 and won a regular season conference title for the first time in nearly 15 years. At 20 games, FAU had the third-longest winning streak in Conference USA (C-USA) history. With a C-USA record 18 conference wins, FAU was ranked for the first time ever this year. Not surprisingly, Dusty May was named C-USA Coach of the Year earlier this month.

Has FAU’s Elite 8 run put May out of reach for Penn State basketball?

Tougher competition in post-season play has not stifled May’s success. FAU made the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in program history this season. A No. 9 seed in the East Region, the Owls have defeated Memphis, Fairleigh Dickinson, and Tennessee en route to the school’s first-ever Elite 8 berth. FAU will play No. 3 seed Kansas State Saturday night for the right to go to the Final 4.

As FAU keeps winning, the nation has now taken note of May. May has been a rumored candidate for several other head coaching positions. This includes Notre Dame before Micah Shrewsberry accepted the opening. In addition to Penn State, May has recently been tied to the Texas Tech coaching search.

But if FAU keeps winning, will Penn State basketball still be able to make a viable pitch to Dusty May? While he reportedly swung for the fences to keep Shrewsberry, we still don’t know how committed AD Pat Kraft is to turning Penn State basketball into a consistent winner moving forward. In his departing message to Shrewsberry, Kraft noted that Penn State is “already moving forward in a search for a new head coach and will identify and appoint a tremendous coach, teacher, and person who will take us to unprecedented heights.”

While the sentiment is there, it now comes down to brass tax. Penn State must invest in recruiting resources, facilities, and NIL opportunities to make the basketball program a consistent winner. Fans have shown that they will support basketball wholeheartedly when given the chance. 

It’ll take investment for any coach with a proven history of success to commit to the Nittany Lions long-term. It will require some upfront costs. But it’s an investment that will see a return in due time.

So, no, I don’t think Penn State basketball should be out of the running to court Dusty May, even if FAU continues its historic March Madness run. In my mind, only one thing can prevent Penn State from getting the coach it wants — itself.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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