Warde J. Manuel, who has had a distinguished career in intercollegiate athletics that ranges from being a student-athlete to a director of athletics, became the Director of Athletics in March. 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.
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.
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 and his wife, Chrislan, have a daughter, Emma (17), and a son, Evan (13).