The University of Michigan has found a new athletic director in Warde Manuel, according to David Jesse of the Detroit Free Press. The 47-year-old was the athletic director at the University of Buffalo from 2005-2012 and at the University of Connecticut from 2012-2016 prior to being hired by the Wolverines.
Manuel's Ties to the Maize and Blue
Manuel was a former high school All-American and defensive tackle for the Michigan football team from 1986-1989. The native of New Orleans went on to graduate with a mater's in social work and a master's in business. Manuel worked in the athletic administration department for the school and later made the jump to associate athletic director before being hired as the athletic director of Buffalo in 2005.
"He loves his alma mater, as most of us do, so it's really a great honor and it is one of the best jobs in college athletics, without question," Connecticut president Susan Herbst said following a Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, which Manuel also attended.
The reason he took the athletic director job at Michigan is because Manuel has a passion for the school and has confidence because of his dominance with Buffalo and Connecticut. The graduate of Michigan understands what the basketball, football and other sports programs are looking for and should not have a problem making the jump to a Big Ten conference school.
University of Buffalo
Manuel got the job as the athletic director at Buffalo and turned things around right away. He hired Turner Gill as the head coach of the football team and allowed the coach to lead the team to its first winning season and first bowl game since 1999, which is when the Bulls joined Division 1 athletics. In the first three years of taking the job, Buffalo's athletic budget jumped $14 million.
University of Connecticut
After he made his mark with Buffalo, Manuel transitioned to a bigger stage with Connecticut. In a three year period under Manuel, the Huskies won six NCAA national championships.
"I'm very proud of all that they have accomplished," Manuel said. "I think that UConn is going to be successful for many, many decades."
During his tenure with the Huskies, Manuel hired Kevin Ollie as the men's basketball coach and football coach Bob Diaco. Ollie took his team to the 2014 National Championship and Diaco took the Huskies to a bowl game in his second season. As a matter of fact, Manuel was named the Under Armour AD of the Year by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of America in 2015 for his outstanding work.
While Manuel helped the Huskies on the sports side of his job, the veteran developed a great academic plan. The Connecticut Division of Athletics owned solid performances in the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR), which is another great sign in an athletic director.
What Is Next?
By coming to Michigan, Manuel is the first athletic director for the Wolverines with athletic department experience since Bo Schembechler, who was in change six athletic director's ago. If Manuel and Jim Harbaugh, head coach of the football team, get along and work well, then it would be possible that Harbaugh retires with the Maize and Blue. The same could be said for the basketball coach, John Beilein, who is currently signed through the 2020-2021 season.
Other possible candidates for the athletic director job included: Jeff Long, Bob DeCarolis, Tom Lewand, Joe Parker, Brad Bates and Diane Dietz. Lewand, however, would never have been a real strong option due to the fact that he was associated with failure as a member of the front office for the Detroit Lions and has no college administration experience, but he got a look because of his understanding of the business side of running an athletic team.
“I’m looking for the best person for the job,” president said in December. “Obviously, having relevant experience is an important predictor of success at any job, but I’m approaching the search with quite an open mind. ... Obviously, experience in organized Division I athletics is also a big component of a person’s potential success. The bottom line is we’re going to hire a spectacular person to lead the program forward, and there are many criteria that we’ll have to apply and balance.”