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Manuel bolts for UConn, leaves UB on stable ground

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blog by Ben Tsujimoto  • 

In a startling move, University at Buffalo’s Warde Manuel has elected to leave his post as college athletic director to assume the same position at the University at Connecticut, the UB Athletic Department reported in an email to local media this evening. Manuel spent the last six years in Buffalo, expending a tremendous amount of energy to oversee the growth of a 20-sport program into more than just a middling mid-major.

UB Bulls men’s basketball head coach Reggie Witherspoon commented on the move: “I’m really happy for Warde and really proud that he could find good fortune at one of the higher-profile schools in the country. Advancing from UB to Connecticut is something that UB alumni and Western New Yorkers can be proud of, but at the same time, we will miss him greatly. He worked hard and fought hard for a greater presence for UB Athletics and I’m sure he’ll do the same thing at UConn.”

Under Manuel’s watch, University at Buffalo men’s football reached the International Bowl in 2008-09, men’s basketball had a MAC Final appearance in 2008, women’s tennis reached the MAC Championship three straight times before capturing the ‘07-08 title in improbable fashion and men’s swimming and diving earned the team’s first ever MAC title in 2011. I’m sure I’m forgetting some of UB’s sports achievements since 2005, but there’s no question that Manuel played a vital role in elevating the school’s athletic program into the national conversation.

Rumors had swirled that Manuel would jump at other athletic director openings long before today’s decision to take the UConn job. In 2009, there were rumblings that Manuel would return to his alma mater at the University of Michigan, while last summer Manuel’s name was in the bidding for Tennessee’s vacant athletic director job.

Having spoken with Manuel on several occasions—one of his greatest traits, I think, was that he’d carry a conversation with anyone, even a timid amateur journalist—the University at Buffalo is losing a genuine professional in the prime of a terrific administrative career. He’ll inherit Connecticut’s powerhouse basketball program while stabilizing a football program with little direction.

It’s a sad day for University at Buffalo, but there was a lingering sense that the Bulls wouldn’t be able to latch onto Manuel forever—perhaps they should be grateful that he stuck around as long as he did.

The press release email noted that UB President Satish Tripathi would announce tomorrow that the school would embark on a national search for the next UB athletic director.

TAGGED: mac sports, ub athletic director, university at buffalo, warde manuel

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