Warde Manuel to stay on as Michigan athletic director with 5-year contract extension

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Rainer Sabin and David Jesse, Detroit Free Press
·2 min read
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With his contract set to expire in March, Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel agreed to a five-year extension through June 2026 that will keep him in the same position he has held since 2016.

The U-M Board of Regents will approve the new deal at its meeting Thursday.

The news comes after Manuel, 52, endured a rocky year that tested his leadership as he confronted several crises, including the financial fallout of COVID-19 and multiple shutdowns caused by the pandemic.

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He also dealt with the failures of a football program that went 2-4 as he tried to determine the long-term future of head coach Jim Harbaugh earlier this winter.

Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel smiles during a pep rally at San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk for the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, Friday, March 30, 2018.
Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel smiles during a pep rally at San Antonio Marriott Riverwalk for the Final Four in San Antonio, Texas, Friday, March 30, 2018.

In January, Harbaugh agreed to a new five-year deal that halved his salary and dramatically reduced the university’s buyout obligation.

It was one of the few victories Manuel could claim during that period. Just months before, 21 athletic department employees were laid off and pay cuts across his division were instituted. Manuel projected an $80 million budget deficit as Michigan continued to feel effect of the pandemic.

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Manuel’s tenure began in January 2016 under better circumstances. Not long before he left his post as Connecticut’s athletic director and returned to the university where he played football for Bo Schembechler and later worked in several administrative roles, Michigan signed a massive apparel deal with Nike.

Harbaugh was also in place as coach and just completed an impressive first season, when he won 10 games and defied expectations.

Until 2020, Manuel hadn’t faced many challenges. And when he was forced to make major moves, he seemed to push the right buttons. Manuel hired Michigan Tech’s Mel Pearson to head the hockey program in 2017 and he promptly guided the Wolverines to the Frozen Four in 2018. The following year, basketball coach John Beilein left for the NBA, and Manuel turned to Juwan Howard of the famous Fab Five to be his replacement.

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Thus far, Howard has won 33 of his first 46 games, and Michigan is now ranked No. 3 in the nation with a 14-1 record.

This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Warde Manuel to stay on as Michigan AD with 5-year contract extension