Though it didn't come as much of a surprise, the University of Michigan officially introduced its new athletic director on Friday afternoon to tremendous excitement from the Michigan community. He joins the program after being the athletic director at UConn and will take over for Interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett starting March 14, 2016.
Realistically, this hire will likely have little immediate impact on Michigan's basketball program. John Beilein was recently signed to an extension and appears to be in stable position at the program. There have been some hints at retirement, but he is not expected to step down for quite some time. Additionally, Kim Barnes Arico had her contracted extended recently as well.
However, Manuel did oversee the hiring of Kevin Ollie, who guided UConn to the national championship in 2014. As such, when and if he does end up hiring Michigan's next coach, he would seem to have a proven track record.
Here is the full release:
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Warde Manuel has been named the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics at the University of Michigan. The appointment was announced today (Friday, Jan. 29) by U-M president Mark S. Schlissel.
Manuel, a U-M alumnus who played football under coach Bo Schembechler, is currently the director of athletics at the University of Connecticut. The five-year appointment will be effective March 14.
"Athletics plays a key role in the U-M community and beyond. It is a front door to the many activities and values of our community," says Schlissel. "Warde Manuel knows how to succeed in the classroom, compete on the field and positively contribute to the social fabric of a vibrant university."
The announcement makes Manuel Michigan's 12th athletic director in 150 years of intercollegiate athletics at the university. U-M has 31 teams and more than 900 student-athletes.
"I am honored to have been selected to serve Michigan as the Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics by President Schlissel," says Manuel. "I look forward to working with all the student-athletes, coaches, staff, faculty, students, donors and fans to continue the Michigan tradition of being 'Leaders and Best.'"
The AD reports directly to the president and serves as a member of the university's executive leadership team. The self-supporting department has an annual budget of $151 million and a staff of 350.
The university announced its national search for a new AD in December 2015. Schlissel led the search with the support of a small advisory group. Turnkey Search, a subsidiary of Turnkey Sports and Entertainment, assisted with the search.
Jim Hackett, the retired CEO of Steelcase Inc., has served as interim AD since October 2014 and will continue until Manuel arrives on campus. Schlissel acknowledged Hackett for his leadership, including his service on the search advisory group.
"I want to thank Jim Hackett for his exemplary service to Michigan," says Schlissel. "He accomplished so much in a short time, serving with a level of distinction and integrity befitting the University of Michigan's highest values."
Manuel became the director of athletics at the University of Connecticut in 2012. UConn teams have won six NCAA national championships under Manuel's leadership -- the most ever by UConn teams in a three-year period. In 2014, UConn's three national championship teams (field hockey and men's and women's basketball) all posted perfect 1,000 single-year scores in the NCAA's Academic Progress Rate. This past year, in 2015, 13 UConn teams posted perfect single-year scores. In 2015, Manuel was also named NACDA Under Armour Athletic Director of the Year.
Prior to arriving in Connecticut, he led a 20-sport program at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo from 2005 through 2012. During his tenure, the Buffalo Bulls experienced an unparalleled period of success from an athletic, academic and community service perspective.
Manuel was honored by Sports Business Journal as a 2008 national "40-Under-40" honoree after receiving the same honor from Business First of Buffalo in fall of 2007. Manuel has served on a number of national and athletic conference committees and boards.
In 2007, he accepted the Opportunity Award when the University at Buffalo was recognized by the Women's Sports Foundation as one of four "standout" colleges and universities in the nation for outstanding achievement in providing equitable athletic opportunities for its female student-athletes.
Born May 22, 1968, Manuel is a native of New Orleans who was a high school All-America football player and played for U-M under Schembechler. He earned multiple letters and started at defensive end in his sophomore year.
His football career was cut short by a neck injury, and he subsequently lettered as a member of the Wolverines' track and field team.
Manuel earned a his bachelor of general studies with a focus in psychology in 1990, his master's degree in social work from U-M in 1993, and an MBA from U-M's Stephen M. Ross School of Business in 2005.
After graduating from U-M, he was coordinator of U-M's Wade H. McCree Jr. Incentive Scholarship Program from 1990 to 1993. The program is a partnership with the Michigan Association of State Universities and Detroit Public Schools that helps students prepare for higher education at public universities in Michigan.
During his time at Michigan, he served in several roles within the athletic department between 1996-2005. In 2000 he was named associate athletic director with oversight responsibility for operational facets of the university's athletic program.
Manuel, and his wife, Chrislan, a U-M alum who earned a master of health services administration degree in 1993, have a daughter, Emma, and a son, Evan.
Manuel's tenure in Ann Arbor will certainly be interesting to watch.