|Title:||Vice President and Director of Athletics|
|Office:||102 Alumni Arena|
In his first six years at the University at Buffalo, Vice President and Athletic Director Warde J. Manuel has set a foundation of excellence both on and off the fields of play that have paved the way for future success while producing a record number of championships.
Manuel’s vision for success, personified by his slogan of “pride, perseverance, passion, and excellence” has led the Bulls’ athletic department to new heights in the classroom, on the fields of play and in the community. In addition to overseeing over $6 million of capital improvements to UB’s athletic facilities, here is a review of some of the accomplishments of the 43-year-old New Orleans native.
Excellence in Academics & Equity
- Evidencing Manuel’s increased focus on academics since arriving on campus – including the creation of a new study center, quadrupling the investment in tutorial support and doubling the number of computers available to student-athletes – in Fall of 2009, UB achieved the highest student-athlete grade point average (GPA) since joining the MAC.
- After inheriting four programs – football, men’s basketball, wrestling, and baseball – that fell far below the NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) cut score of 925 when he arrived, diligent work and a focused academic plan led to all four sports – and indeed all 20 of UB’s intercollegiate sports – posting a four-year APR rate above the cut score. At the end of 2009-10, 10 of UB’s 20 sports had scores of 975 or above.
- In the fall of 2007, the Athletics Department was recognized by the NCAA Division I-A Athletic Directors as a Program of Excellence, the only school in the nation to receive that designation for 2006-07.
- 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.
- Since the fall 2007, the Bulls have routinely had roughly half of the their total student-athletes achieve a 3.0 grade point average or higher, including a high of 266 in the Fall of 2009. The department has averaged 246 students per semester scoring a 3.0 or higher in that four-year period.
- To best sum up the overall growth of all of UB’s programs, consider that in Buffalo’s first seven years in the Mid-American Conference they produced 110 All-Conference selections, or 15.7 per year. Since Manuel’s arrival, Buffalo has posted 234 All-Conference performers (39 per season) including a high water mark of 52 during the 2009-10 campaign.
- The 2011 men’s swimming team captured its first Mid-American Conference championship as head coach Andy Bashor was named MAC Coach of the Year for the third straight year.
- Wrestling set a UB Division I record in 2011 with six wrestlers earning bids to the NCAA Championships, winning four weight classes at the MAC Championships, while head coach Jim Beichner was named MAC Coach of the Year.
- In addition, the Bulls doubled their all-time list of Division I All-Americans from three to six in the span of a year (2010-11) as Kourtney Brown (women’s basketball), Kristy Woods (women’s track and field) and Rob Golabek (men’s track and field) all earned All-America honors.
- The 2010-11 season set a new benchmark for individual accolades with three Bulls earning MAC player of the year honors (Kourtney Brown, women’s basketball; Becky O’Brien, women’s track and field; Tom Murphy, baseball) and two others earning firsts: Javon McCrea, MAC men’s basketball Freshman of the Year and John-Martin Cannon, MAC Wrestling Most Outstanding Performer at the conference championships.
- The 2010 men’s tennis team became Buffalo’s first team to go unbeaten in the MAC regular season, capturing the conference regular season crown.
- UB’s rowing team continued their unprecedented championship run by capturing the 2010 Colonial Athletic Association team title in addition to winning three straight (2008-2010) overall points title at the Dad Vail Regatta, the largest collegiate Regatta in North America.
- The 2009 softball team tied a school record for wins in a season.
- The 2009 and 2010 baseball teams won the most games in their Division I history.
- The 2008 football team won the Mid-American Conference Championship and played in their first bowl game in school history – the 2009 International Bowl.
- The 2008-09 men’s basketball team won a share of the Mid-American Conference regular season title for the first time since joining the conference and advanced to play in the College Basketball Invitational for only their second postseason appearance as a Division I program. In 2011, the Bulls won 20 games again and made their third post-season appearance in the past seven seasons.
- The 2007-08 women’s tennis team claimed UB’s first ever post-season Mid-American Conference Championship and became the first team to represent Buffalo in a Division I NCAA Tournament, losing to eventual national champion UCLA.
- The 2007 Bulls’ football program gained a share of the Mid-American Conference East Division title for the first time in school history.
- The 2005-06 men’s basketball team started the year 11-1 and earned Top 25 votes for the first time in its Division I history.
- Under Manuel’s direction, UB student-athletes, coaches and staff are committed to community outreach and developed a comprehensive outreach program that reaches across social and economical borders. Our student-athletes are role models and vehicles for social change. The programs that we deliver are geared to transform and empower families.
- From 2005-10 UB student-athletes, coaches and administrators conducted over 8,600 community service hours in the Western New York community and provided over 36,300 free tickets through our Corporate Community Care Ticket Program which unites area businesses with charitable organizations and youth groups to provide individuals the opportunity to experience the excitement of attending a big-time college athletic event.
- 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 conducts at least one community service project per year. Projects include hospital visits, mentoring and reading to elementary school children, adopt family programs, Habitat for Humanity, Cooks for Kids, visits to senior citizen facilities, and youth sports clinics.
- Signature programs implemented or participated from 2005-10 include: UB A Fit Kid Program, Carewears, Project ACES (All Children Exercising Simultaniously), Adopt-a-School – Buffalo Public Schools,Takedown Cancer, and Dig For the Cure to name a few of the many programs that our student-athletes, coaches and staff participate in throughout the year.
All of these accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. 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.
His experience and success as an athletic administrator in the ACC, Big Ten, and the MAC has made Manuel’s council highly desirable for selection to NCAA, Mid-American Conference, and National Professional Association 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 MAC Director of Athletics Finance Committee.
Shortly after his arrival on campus, Manuel made national waves by hiring Turner Gill, a former Heisman Trophy candidate and nationally-respected former assistant coach at Nebraska, as Buffalo’s 23rd head football coach in December of 2005. At the time of his hiring, Gill was one of just five African-American head coach in Division I-A.
Gill’s hiring would lead to a cover story in USA Today on Buffalo’s leading position nationally on minority hiring, shortly after the Division of Athletics was recognized by the Laboratory for Diversity in Sport at Texas A&M University not only for the athletic department’s racial diversity, but also its gender equity in its annual Diversity Athletics Awards. Buffalo was recognized for Overall Excellence in Diversity, Title IX Compliance and Employee Gender Diversity. UB was recognized again in 2007.
After Gill left UB to accept the head coaching job at Kansas, Manuel hired Jeff Quinn, who in 2009 was a finalist for the Frank Broyles Assistant Coach of the Year. Quinn was the offensive coordinator at Cincinnati from 2007-09 and had helped the Bearcats claim back-to-back Big East championships while appearing in back-to-back BCS Bowl games (Orange and Sugar Bowls).
When Manuel arrived on campus he focused on building a model of fiscal accountability - by using a zero-based budgeting methodology - that provided each area with the resources that were needed to be successful. Since his arrival, Manuel has effectively balanced a budget that saw increases of nearly four million dollars over his first three years, while setting new benchmarks for corporate sponsorships and donations.
During his tenure, Manuel has overseen a combined $14 million in facility additions and renovations that will aid the student-athlete’s academic and athletic experience. Under Manuel’s leadership, two of the department’s five largest financial gifts were secured. A $500,000 gift from Robert and Carol Morris allowed Buffalo to double its current weight room space with the addition of a sports performance center adjacent to UB Stadium. In addition, he secured gifts totaling $1.1 million dollars from Dr. Harold Ortman that will benefit the men’s and women’s tennis programs. Concurrently, his focus on providing the coaches and student-athletes with the resources needed to compete for championships led to the hiring of the nationally renowned architectural firm HNTB to design a state-of-the-art multi-use fieldhouse that would benefit not only all of UB’s athletic programs, but the University and Western New York community as a whole.
Manuel was named UB’s Director of Athletics on July 22, 2005, after serving as an associate athletic director at the University of Michigan where he oversaw the football and men’s basketball programs. His appointment came just eight weeks after former NCAA President Gene Corrigan issued a report commissioned by former UB President John B. Simpson that identified the hiring of a top-flight athletics director as a key factor to UB’s athletic teams being successful in the Mid-American Conference.
“We have selected a director of athletics who is thoroughly steeped in the world of intercollegiate sports at the highest level, and one who knows the critical importance of balancing athletic and academic excellence,” Simpson said upon Manuel’s hiring. “In searching for the ideal candidate for this role, we sought to identify a leader who is fully committed to fulfilling UB’s institutional mission of excellence, and one who understands at a fundamental level exactly what it will take to achieve this mission. Clearly, UB has found just such a leader in Warde Manuel.”
Manuel has nearly 20 years of collegiate administrative experience with progressively greater levels of responsibility and leadership. He was one of Michigan’s seven associate athletic directors with responsibilities that included the management of Michigan’s Division I-A football and men’s basketball programs. The University of Michigan Athletic Department has more than 700 student athletes, 25 sports and operates on a budget of over $50 million. The sports that Manuel oversaw had operating budgets of $15 million and generated $45 million in revenue. He led the fundraising campaign for a $12 million Student-Athlete Academic Center that raised $14.5 million in gifts and pledges. He also participated in fundraising efforts that led to more than $19 million in facility renovations from 2001-05.
A native of New Orleans who was a consensus first-team High School All-American, Manuel earned multiple letters and started at defensive end in his sophomore year while playing football under legendary coach Bo Schembechler, the winningest football coach in Michigan history. His career was cut short by a neck injury and he subsequently earned two letters on the Wolverines’ track and field team while earning a bachelor’s degree in 1990. In the course of working on a PhD in Social Work and Psychology, he earned a master’s degree in social work in 1993 and an MBA from Michigan’s Ross School of Business in April 2005. He has conducted research in the areas of team, group and community organization theories, as well as student-athlete development within the confines of the team and the effects that coaches have on their development. He has taught sports marketing and collegiate athletics as an adjunct faculty member with Wayne State University’s College of Education.
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 Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) Athletic Association before being named assistant athletic director of academic affairs.
Manuel returned to Michigan in June 1996 as an executive staff assistant in the Athletic Department. In February 1998 he was named an assistant athletic director with responsibilities for overseeing operational facets of the university’s athletic program. He was named an associate athletic director in September 2000.
Manuel and his wife, Chrislan, have a daughter, Emma, and a son, Evan.