Ann Arbor – There are boxes that have to be unpacked, and the office does not have his finishing touches, with the exception of family photographs and a few mementos, but Warde Manuel is a little busy these days.
Manuel, on the job as Michigan’s new athletic director since mid-March, replacing interim AD Jim Hackett, has been meeting with the Wolverines’ coaches, gaining an understanding of the $153.6 million athletic department budget and handling get-to-know-you meetings with local media.
There are a number of photos in his office featuring his wife, Chrislan, and daughter Emma, who will begin medical school at Michigan this July, and son, Evan, who will be a freshman at Michigan.
He has a treasured Muhammad Ali card signed years ago when Manuel met him in Ypsilanti. It is framed and sits behind his desk. There also is a humorous “In the Bleachers” cartoon pinned to the wall. It features a surgeon removing a football from a fan with a message about the athletic director not wanting to lose any equipment unnecessarily.
For Manuel, the comic is a reminder that budgets are meant to be met.
Following a long line of Michigan athletic directors from business backgrounds, Manuel has risen as an athletic administrator, who happens to have an MBA and began work on a Ph.D. in social work and psychology.
“It is really helpful I have the MBA and can handle and understand the business aspects and the monetary aspects of the department,” Manuel told The Detroit News on Friday. “Although I didn’t finish (the Ph.D.), it was tremendous education and insight into the psychology of personal interaction with people.
“That combination has been very helpful to me. We always strive for perfection. Ultimately, time will tell whether it’s even a good enough combination.”
Manuel addressed a number of topics on Friday:
Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh and his many ideas: “I think the ideas that come to fruition that Jim has brought to college football and to Michigan football, I don’t see any issue with them. I like his creativity and his thought process and will always help him and our other coaches try to figure out how to make the experience better for our students who participate in sports. We’re always going to work at doing things within the rules.”
Heisman Trophy winner Charles Woodson and the possibility of having his number retired: “I don’t know the deliberation or if there’s a policy in place (regarding how retired numbers are determined). I know a year ago we retired Desmond (Howard’s) jersey number. Listen, Charles is a legend. He is a great person. I had a chance to see him at the spring game. He’s unbelievable. I’ll look at it. I’m certain it will be in the not-so-distant future, I don’t know when. I just don’t know if there’s a policy.
“Listen, there’s many, many, great football athletes in our history at Michigan but by all measures, Charles is at the top of that list, not just because of the Heisman Trophy (but also) what he’s gone on to do in the pros. And so, we’ll continue to look at that, but he’s very deserving, and we’ll look at the timing of when that happens.”
On Jimmy King scheduling a public forum regarding the Fab Five and the possible return of the Final Four banners to Crisler Center: “I’m looking forward to hearing the discussion and perspective that is shared. It’s a good time for us to have it in the 25th year of them arriving on campus. I give Jimmy and Professor (Yago) Colas kudos for bringing the discussion back to life about the Fab Five and the impact they had on the university.
“I followed them, I cheered for them. It was a phenomenon, and they’re to be celebrated for what they brought those two years, their on-the-court success, and we have to discuss the aftermath in a way to make sure we move on in a positive direction. It took time, but I think Michigan, in particular Michigan basketball, has come through it and we’ll continue to learn from it and learn from their experience, pros and cons.”
On the possibility of beer sales at Michigan Stadium (UConn sold beer at football games when Manuel was AD there): “We sold beer at the stadium and beer and wine in the suites, but it was a state-run facility. At our on-campus arena, we didn’t sell (alcohol). It’s not something I’ve had a conversation about at this point in time (at Michigan). But also being from New Orleans, it’s not something personally I’m against, people drinking beer and alcohol. They certainly do in the parking lots prior to the games. I understand and appreciate the philosophy on a college campus of either no or limiting the scope of beer and alcohol sales at our venues.”
On night games at Michigan Stadium (there will be none in 2016): “I’m not sure what the future holds in terms of night games. Listen, we’ll make decisions we control on timing of games, whether it be day or night, and we’ll also deal with (game times) that we don’t have any control over.”