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Warde Manuel
Warde  Manuel

Director of Athletics


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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 at the University of Connecticut in March of 2012.

UConn teams have won six NCAA national championships under Manuel's watch - the most ever by Husky squads in a three-year period. In May of 2015, in recognition of Manuel’s leadership of the Huskies success academically and athletically, he was named a winner of the Under Armour AD of the Year Award by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of America (NACDA).

The UConn Division of Athletics has enjoyed outstanding performances in the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) under Manuel’s watch. In 2015, UConn had 13 teams that posted a perfect single-season 1000 score. In 2014, UConn’s three national championship teams (field hockey and men’s and women’s basketball) posted a perfect 1000 single-year score while field hockey also had a perfect 1000 four-year score.

The men's basketball team has had APR scores of 978, 947, 1000 and 1000 in the past four years as Manuel has helped develop a comprehensive academic plan for all UConn programs.

In 2014-15, the UConn field hockey team won their second-straight NCAA and the women's basketball team won a third-straight NCAA title. UConn teams won eight conference regular season and tournament championships. The women's soccer team played in the NCAA tournament, advancing to the second round, while men’s track and field, women's swimming and diving and women's cross country sent individuals to NCAA events.

In the 2013-14 academic year, UConn won three national championships for the first time in school history - men's basketball, women's basketball and field hockey. While the men's soccer team advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals. In addition, Husky teams won seven conference regular season and tournament championships. UConn was just one of four schools nationally that finished in the top ten of the Capital One Cup on both the men's and women's side.

His first academic year of 2012-13 was a highly successful one for UConn teams, highlighted by the women's basketball team winning the NCAA Championship. The Husky men’s soccer, field hockey, women’s lacrosse and baseball teams all took part in NCAA tournament play. UConn’s women's diving and men's and women's track and field programs were all represented in NCAA individual championships. Within three months of his arrival, Manuel directed UConn's acceptance into membership of Hockey East, the nation's premier men's ice hockey conference, as the Huskies begin play in the league in 2014-15.

Manuel oversaw a coaching transition in men's basketball with the retirement of Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun and the hiring of former Husky student-athlete, NBA player and UConn assistant coach Kevin Ollie. In December of 2013, Manuel hired former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco as UConn's new football coach. During his tenure, Manuel also hired new head coaches for the UConn men's ice hockey (Mike Cavanaugh), women's ice hockey (Chris MacKenzie), volleyball (Kris Grunwald), women's track and field (J.J. Clark), and softball program (Jen McIntyre).

Manuel led the completion of the $40 million fundraising effort for the construction of the Werth Family UConn Basketball Champions Center, which opened in the fall of 2014 and provides the Husky men's and women's program with a training, practice and academic services home. The facility is the first privately-funded building on the UConn campus and is named for Peter and Pamela Werth, who donated a total of $7 million to the building. Manuel helped to secure an $8 million gift, the largest in UConn athletic history, from former Husky men's soccer student-athlete Tony Rizza for the building of a new state-of-the-art soccer stadium on campus.

Manuel has already become a key leader in the American Athletic Conference where he currently serves as the conference representative on the NCAA Division I Council, as a member of the CFO Competition Committee, serves on the Athletic Director Executive Committee, and served for three years as a member of the league's Finance Committee.

He was elected as a Trustee of the Women’s Sport Foundation in June 2015, elected the Chair of that group’s Finance Committee and serves on WSF Executive Committee. Manuel currently serves on the board of Hartford’s Camp Courant and as a member of the Men Make a Difference and Men Against Domestic Violence for Interval House.

Prior to arriving in Storrs, Manuel led a 20-sport program at the University at Buffalo from August 2005 until his departure for UConn in March 2012. During his tenure the Bulls enjoyed an unparalleled period of success during his time there from an athletic, academic and community service perspective. Buffalo enjoyed great on-field success during Manuel's time as the football team participated in the 2009 International Bowl (first bowl appearance in school history) and the men's basketball team made postseason appearances in three of the his final 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 becoming the first team in UB history to accomplish that feat.

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 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, and a son, Evan.