MICHIGAN ATHLETIC DIRECTOR
Warde J. Manuel was named Michigan’s
Donald R. Shepherd Director of Athletics
on Jan. 29, 2016. He is Michigan’s 12th
athletic director in over 150 years of
intercollegiate athletics at the University.
Michigan turned-in a tremendous
overall campaign in 2017-18 both in the
classroom and in competition. Ten 10
programs combined to win 12 conference
championships, including Final Four runs
in field hockey, men’s basketball and ice
hockey. The Wolverines led the Big Ten
Donald R. Shepherd
with a sixth-place finish in the Learfield Directors’ Cup, marking their secondconsecutive
sixth-place finish to go with a third-place finish in 2015-16.
Academically, a record 91 Wolverines earned Big Ten Distinguished Scholar
honors with a grade-point average of 3.7 and above, in addition to a record
359 Academic All-Big Ten honorees in 2017-18. Nearly 60 percent of
Michigan’s student-athletes achieved a 3.0 grade-point average or better
and 120 of U-M’s 158 graduates did so with at least a 3.0 GPA.
Since Manuel’s tenure began in 2016, Michigan student-athletes have
achieved at the highest levels including four individual NCAA national
champions in men’s gymnastics, women’s tennis, women’s outdoor track
and field, and most recently track and field with 10,000-meter champion Ben
Flanagan in 2018.
Manuel’s return to Ann Arbor brings him full-circle as a student-athlete,
three-time degree-holder and athletic administrator at Michigan, to a
distinguished career as an athletic director, and back again. He returns to
U-M following a nearly four-year run as director of athletics at the University
of Connecticut, highlighted by being recognized as the 2015 NACDA Under
Armour Athletic Director of the Year.
UConn teams won six NCAA national championships under Manuel’s
leadership -- the most ever by Husky teams in a three-year period. In 2014,
UConn’s three national champion teams (field hockey, men’s, women’s
basketball) all posted perfect 1,000 single-year scores in the NCAA’s
Academic Progress Rate (APR). In 2015, 13 UConn teams posted perfect
single-year scores, marking a dramatic academic improvement.
Prior to arriving in Connecticut, Manuel was the Vice President and Director
of Athletics at the University of Buffalo (SUNY). During his tenure, the 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 the fall of 2007.
In 2007, he accepted the Opportunity Award by all-time tennis great Billie
Jean King, 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, Louisiana. He
was a high school All-American in football and played for U-M under Bo
Schembechler. He lettered in 1987 and ’88, starting at defensive end 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 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.
Upon graduating from U-M, he served as coordinator of U-M’s Wade H.
McCree Jr. Incentive Scholarship Program from 1990-93, a partnership with
the Michigan Association of State Universities and Detroit Public Schools
that helps students prepare for higher education at public universities in
He subsequently worked as an academic advisor with the Georgia Tech
Athletic Association before being named assistant athletic director of
academic affairs. Manuel served Michigan Athletics in several roles from
1996-2005. In 2000 he was named associate athletic director overseeing
operational facets, as well as Michigan’s football and men’s basketball
Manuel, and his wife, Chrislan, a U-M alumna who earned a master’s of
health services administration degree in 1993, have two children, Emma and
Evan. Emma is a third-year medical student at U-M and Evan is a junior, also
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