It’s official. Warde Manuel is a Michigan man again.
Manuel’s transition from University of Connecticut athletic director to AD at his alma mater began Friday morning with a press conference in Ann Arbor.
Reading the reports and watching the videos, it is obvious Manuel has returned to his happy place. He is comfortable in Ann Arbor and he knew everyone in the room. People at Michigan believe Manuel is the man they need right now, as they put the finishing touches on fixing an athletic department that was a mess two years ago.
UConn was lucky to have Manuel these past four years. We wish him well. He obviously has strong feelings for UConn, where he strengthened his brand on a national level after leaving Buffalo.
“I want to take a minute to thank the UConn community, chairman [of the board of trustees] Larry McHugh, President Susan Herbst, student-athletes, coaches, the staff, everyone in UConn Nation for all their great effort and success and support for me and my family,” Manuel said. “It’s been a pleasure serving as your athletic director for the last four years. UConn is a great place academically and athletically, with great people. It already, because of its success, deserves to be in a Power Five conference, and I hope to see that soon.”
Now it is time for UConn to move on and make an important decision that could shape the future of the entire university. President Susan Herbst Friday named the search committee that will assist her in finding the next UConn AD. And her Chief of Staff, Rachel Rubin, was named interim AD.
If you haven’t read the column I wrote for Today’sU.com Wednesday regarding this hire, you can click on the link here.
Rubin has a background that includes years of involvement with the UConn athletic department. She is a capable and accountable executive with a wealth of understanding about the UConn campus. Rubin will do a good job in her role and UConn has made a good move with this decision.
Here is the statement Herbst issued Friday:
Statement from UConn President Susan Herbst
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
The only downside to hiring fine leaders for key positions at UConn is that their experience and skills are sought after by other institutions across the nation, who also want to hire strong leaders.
When Warde Manuel, our Athletic Director since 2012, told me he was interested in the AD position at the University of Michigan, I was not at all surprised; Michigan is his alma mater where he spent years of his life as a student-athlete, playing football for Bo Schembechler, participating in track and field, and earning his degrees, later becoming assistant and associate AD there.
I was also not surprised when he was recently named to the position; Warde is a terrific AD and any university would be lucky to have him.
While we are sorry to lose him at UConn, we also understand how much the position at Michigan means to him and we wish him all the best.
Warde is expected to begin at Michigan in March. Rachel Rubin, who began her career at UConn as an Associate Athletic Director and is currently Chief of Staff in my office, will serve as interim AD.
We will begin a national search for a permanent successor immediately. I have appointed a committee to lead this search. They will serve in a critically important advisory capacity as we move through the process and I ultimately appoint our next AD. The members of the committee are:
Ø Andrew Bessette (’75) UConn Board of Trustees
Ø Scott Brown, UConn Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology, NCAA Faculty Athletics Representative
Ø Andrea Dennis-LaVigne (’03), UConn Board of Trustees (Committee Chair)
Ø Doug Elliot (’82), President of The Hartford
Ø Thomas Ritter (Law ’77) UConn Board of Trustees
Ø Rachel Rubin (’77), Chief of Staff to the President & Executive Secretary to the Board of Trustees
Ø Nancy Stevens, Head Coach, UConn Field Hockey
I look forward to a thorough and efficient search process.
Please join me in thanking Warde for his outstanding service to UConn and in wishing him all the best.
Statement from AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco
I want to take this opportunity to congratulate Warde Manuel on being named the new Director of Athletics at the University of Michigan and to thank and recognize him for the many and significant contributions he has made to the University of Connecticut and to the American Athletic Conference.
Warde has assumed important Conference leadership positions, serving with distinction as our NCAA Council representative and as Chair of our Athletic Directors Finance Committee. I have valued his counsel and friendship, as have his colleagues at our institutions and in the conference office. Warde was instrumental in helping to establish the strong foundation of the American Athletic Conference and has compiled a distinguished record at the University of Connecticut in support of the academic and athletic needs and accomplishments of UConn’s student-athletes, coaches and administrators.
Please join me in thanking Warde and wishing him great success as he returns to his alma mater.