Tuesday October 3, 2023

FAU Men’s Hoops Still Dancing Despite Being A Financial Underdog

  • Last year, FAU spent $2.7 million on its team, according to Department of Education data.
  • The Owls will face off against the Tennessee Vols in the Sweet 16, who spent $14.4 million.
Florida Atlantic Owls guard Brandon Weatherspoon celebrates with guard Johnell Davis during the second round of the NCAA men's basketball tournament
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Florida Atlantic University men’s basketball coach Dusty May doesn’t consider his team a “Cinderella,” he told reporters on Wednesday. 

But the team, which will play in its first-ever Sweet 16 on Thursday, is certainly a financial underdog: The Owls have a smaller budget than any team in the men’s East Regional — and the second-smallest of any remaining Sweet 16 team aside from Princeton ($1.8 million).

Last year, FAU spent $2.7 million on its team, according to Department of Education data. The Owls’ opponents, the Tennessee Volunteers, spent $14.4 million. 

And those numbers don’t even include coaching salaries:

  • May makes a reportedly $390,000 a year — less than any other coach in the men’s Sweet 16. (Though his players did call May “the best coach” during a press conference on Wednesday.)
  • Vols coach Rick Barnes earns $5.5 million annually — the second-highest in the men’s Sweet 16 and the fourth-highest in all of NCAA men’s basketball.

Over the past few years, the team has played in front of sparse crowds. At Wednesday’s press conference, May described how the program tried to rebuild by captivating one fan at a time. 

He did chuckle when financial disparities were mentioned, noting that the team was able to rise above any financial disparities thanks to its attitude.

“In today’s climate, a lot of places are getting more of a finished product, where a lot of our guys came in with a chip on their shoulder,” he said. “But what’s separated them is their work ethic and their drive to be successful.”

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