David Moulton: FGCU shows Joe Dooley it's not afraid of commitment

Commitment.

That’s what stands out about this next chapter of FGCU men’s basketball — for both sides.

You can have a winning program and not be “committed” to it.

Last year, the Eagles’ players and coaches were “all in” and they made history. But you can’t continue to have a winning basketball program if you are not “committed” to having one.

In the world of college athletics, “commitment” means one thing and one thing only: money. During the interview process, Dooley said (on our radio show last Wednesday) “that President Bradshaw and Athletic Director Ken Kavanagh made a commitment to do what it takes to help build a winning basketball program.”

When asked for specifics during a second interview Monday, Dooley talked about some little things like a players’ lounge and eventually a practice facility. Obviously when he asked Bradshaw and Kavanagh about their level of “commitment”, he was asking about much more than that.

Which tells me he got assurances from Bradshaw that over time what is needed will be provided. I say Bradshaw, and exclude Kavanagh not because, the FGCU’s president doesn’t know what a mid-major program and department needs to be committed to winning. Kavanagh does. He oversaw one at Bradley. He just doesn’t have those resources and in the short term does not look as if he has any way to acquire them. Which means the “commitment” burden falls on Bradshaw. Which he obviously met.

This should be music to the ears of every FGCU fan (and arguably the rest of the athletic department).

FGCU’s “commitment” is what got Dooley, in return, to make every bit the personal and professional sacrifice.

First, he gave up money. Not chump change either ($75,000 per year for five years) and a country club membership (plus some other perks). Second, he decided to leave Lawrence, Kansas. Dooley himself said, “there’s no better place.” In the world of college basketball there may be a handful of spots that are its equal, but none better. It’s also the only place Tanya and Joe’s 9 year-old son Max has ever known. You don’t leave the home of Naismith and Allen Fieldhouse unless your professional soul is screaming, “I’ve got to have this job.”

So after 10 seasons as a Jayhawk and over 13 years since he’d been a head coach, Dooley decided this was the job! Really?

Of all the possible places in the last few years since Dooley’s name started appearing on all the national “top assistant coaches in the country” lists (he turned down a return to East Carolina and the Hofstra job last month just to name two), he chose FGCU as the place where he was going to make his stand.

At age 47 (not old by any means, but old enough in coaching where if you don’t win, you are never your own boss again).

FGCU, from its very top, has seemingly decided that the men’s basketball program is a key part of the school’s future. Dooley has bet his family’s happiness and a quarter-century spent in college basketball that FGCU is worth the risk.

Some schools and coaches make deals where you know it’s merely a lease with an option to buy. FGCU and Dooley have clearly made a commitment to each other.

Anyone in a successful marriage will tell you, there are plenty of ups and downs, but as long as both sides are equally committed, everything will work out just fine.

David Moulton co-hosts “Miller and Moulton in the Afternoon” weekdays 2 to 6 p.m. on ESPN Radio.

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