Buffalo's Warde Manuel is UConn's new athletic director

UConn finally has a permanent replacement for Jeff Hathaway. The school announced today that it has hired Warde Manuel, who was been the athletic director at the University of Buffalo for the past six years. He'll be officially introduced at a press conference tomorrow.

Manuel oversaw the early years of Buffalo's transition to FBS football and is known for his focus on academics. When he arrived at Buffalo four teams -- football, men's basketball, wrestling and baseball -- were below NCAA APR requirements and by the end of 2010 all were back above it.

He played football and track and field as an undergraduate at Michigan and he graduated from the school in 1990. He earned a masters degree in social work from Michigan in 1993 and got a masters degree from the school in 2005. He has a five year contract that will pay him $450,000 a year with options for up to $100,000 a year in bonuses. He is the first african-american athletic director at UConn.

For a Buffalo perspective, check out SB Nation blog Bull Run, which is sad to see Manuel go. UConn's full release is after the jump.

STORRS, Conn. - Warde J. Manuel, who has had a distinguished career in intercollegiate athletics that ranges from being a student-athlete to a director of athletics, has been named the new Director of Athletics at the University of Connecticut by President Susan Herbst.

Manuel, a 1990 graduate of the University of Michigan where he played both football and track and field, has most recently been the Director of Athletics at the University at Buffalo for the past six years.

"We are incredibly proud and thrilled that Warde will be joining the Husky family," said Herbst. "UConn is one of the great American universities and our athletics program is the envy of many. It's because of this that we were able to attract an amazing pool of candidates from across the nation - and an ideal, stand-out candidate of Warde's exceptionally-high caliber. He will play the integral, and even transformational, role in the future of UConn athletics. It's a great day for this university."

Manuel led a 20-sport program at Buffalo, an institution that is a member of the prestigious American Association of Universities. Buffalo enjoyed an unparalleled period of success during his time there from an athletic, academic and community service perspective.

"I am so honored and excited to come to the University of Connecticut," said Manuel. "UConn is synonymous with greatness, excellence and achievement. It is without a doubt one of the legendary schools that is at the pinnacle of intercollegiate athletics. The opportunity to be the athletics director at UConn and lead this extraordinary division is the role of a lifetime. You have remarkable coaches, great leadership, outstanding student-athletes and a wonderful base of fans, alumni and supporters. Our focus will be on academic success, compliance, ensuring great relationships with our fans, friends and supporters and, without a doubt, victory on the field and the court. My family and I are so happy to call UConn home."

From an academic standpoint, teams at Buffalo enjoyed incredible academic success. When Manuel arrived at UB, there were four programs - football, men's basketball, wrestling, and baseball - that fell far below the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) cut score of 925. With a focused academic plan, all four teams posted a four-year APR rate above the cut score and at the end of 2009-10, 10 of UB's 20 sports had scores of 975 or above.

Buffalo enjoyed great on-field success during Manuel's time as the football team participated in the 2009 International Bowl and the men's basketball team made postseason appearances in three of the past seven years. Olympic sports also thrived under Manuel's leadership with accomplishments such as three-straight Dad Vail Regatta titles by the rowing team, six wrestlers earning spots at the 2011 NCAA Championship and the women's tennis team making an appearance in the 2008 NCAA tournament. The sports of baseball and softball won a record number of games during his tenure and student-athletes earned All-American and all-conference honors at record rates.

Under Manuel's direction, UB student-athletes, coaches and staff are committed to community outreach and developed a comprehensive outreach program that reached across social and economic borders. UB student-athletes, coaches and administrators conduct over 2,500 community service hours in the Western New York community on an annual basis. UB's Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) also coordinates 16 community service projects per year including internal campus related projects and external community projects. Each of Buffalo's 20 athletic teams also conduct at least one community service project per year.

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 conference committees and boards.

In September of 2011, he was one of only three Athletic Directors asked to serve on the Collegiate Model Rules committee, a working group of the Division I Committee on Academic Performance, charged with broad overview of the current NCAA Rules Manual.

He also currently serves on the NCAA Division I Championships/Sports Management Cabinet and served for four years as a member of the NCAA's Academic Cabinet. During that time he was selected as Chair of the NCAA Academic Eligibility & Compliance Transfer Ad Hoc Committee. He is a member of the Boards of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics and the D1A Athletic Directors Association. He also serves as a member of the Council of Presidents Budget & Finance Committee and served for three years as the Chair of the Mid-American Conference Director of Athletics Finance Committee.

In June of 2007, Manuel accepted the Opportunity Award by all-time tennis great Billie Jean King, as 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.

Prior to his time at Buffalo, he was the assistant and associate director of athletics for the University of Michigan, where he oversaw that school's football and men's basketball programs. In February 1998, he was named an assistant athletic director at Michigan with responsibilities for overseeing operational facets of the university's athletic program. He was named an associate athletic director in September 2000.

Born May 22, 1968, Manuel is a native of New Orleans, who was a high school All-American football player and played for the University of Michigan under its legendary coach, Bo Schembechler. Manuel 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 earned two letters on the Wolverines' track and field team.

After graduating from Michigan, Manuel was coordinator of the university's Wade H. McCree, Jr., Incentive Scholars Program from June 1990 to August 1993. The program is a partnership with The President's Council of State Universities and Detroit Public Schools that helps students prepare for higher education at public universities in Michigan. He subsequently worked briefly as an academic advisor with the Georgia Tech Athletic Association before being named assistant athletic director of academic affairs.

In the course of working on a PhD in social work and psychology at Michigan, he earned a master's degree in social work in 1993 and an MBA from Michigan's Ross School of Business in April 2005.

Manuel will sign a five-year contract with UConn, with the option for a two-year extension at the discretion of the university. He will be paid a base salary of $450,000 a year. He is eligible for a $100,000 performance incentive annually if certain academic and athletic goals are achieved and is eligible for $100,000 in deferred compensation to be awarded at the conclusion of his five-year contract.

Manuel and his wife, Chrislan, have a daughter, Emma (17), and a son, Evan (13).

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