April 5, 2013
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- When Eric May fouled out late in the NIT championship game Thursday night, the Hawkeye faithful in attendance in New York weren't the only ones who gave the Hawkeye senior a standing ovation. Fans 1,000 miles west in Iowa City at Brothers Bar & Grill also honored May, who had played in his last game.
"There was a group of 30-plus people who had a bunch of tables put together watching the game and realized that May fouled out and it was the last time he would be wearing a Hawkeye jersey, they stood up and gave the senior a standing ovation," said Nick Carroll, Brothers Bar & Grill manager. "That spread to another 100-plus who stood out of their chairs. It was a heartwarming moment.
"Everyone was down on the outcome of the game, but then to see them acknowledge his dedication and commitment to the program was special. It gave you goosebumps."
Carroll estimated there were more than 500 fans in his establishment at the time Thursday night watching the game cheering on the Hawkeyes. Carroll did a double take at the television to find out what was going on to spark a standing ovation at that junction of the game.
"I didn't know that he had fouled out," said Carroll. "Then I looked up and they flashed that he had fouled out. That was as cool as it gets."
May says the story and fan support is unbelievable.
"The love that Iowa fans showed me is beyond what I could have imagined," he said. "I wish we could have gotten a win last night, but I was proud to have played four years for these guys and our fans."
During Iowa's five-game NIT run, May ranked fourth on the team in scoring (7.4 ppg). He also averaged 2.6 boards, 2.2 assists and one steal. He was also given the defensive assignment of the opposition's top scoring threat. May's actions have taught the younger group of Hawkeyes the right way to lead.
Carroll said he has witnessed many great Hawkeye moments since working at Brothers Bar & Grill and the standing ovation for May is in his top three.
"Marvin McNutt's game-winning touchdown catch with no time on the clock at Michigan State in 2009 and the Capital One Bowl last-second victory are the other two top moments here at Brothers," said Carroll. "May's standing ovation is definitely the top basketball moment. Hawkeye fans know what he meant to this team and program, and I think that was truly something special."
Carroll also says there has been a business increase during the basketball team's rise this season, especially the last six weeks.
"People came out to watch this basketball team," said Carroll. "Business has certainly accelerated. It's been busier and busier as the season progressed. You see people really embracing and talking about this team. Fans are excited to come out and watch the Hawkeyes."
Without a doubt, many other Hawkeye fans across the country saluted May in their own way when he walked off the court at Madison Square Garden for the final time.