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Beilein impressed with new UM boss Manuel

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Basketball coach John Beilein on Friday welcomed the fourth athletic director during his nine-year tenure at Michigan.

New Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel

And Beilein is excited about what the future holds with Warde Manuel, who will assume the job in March.

"Great day at Michigan today," Beilein said Friday afternoon, following Manuel's introduction as the successor to Jim Hackett. "I could tell by all the smiles in the room today that Warde Manuel has quite a reputation preceding him. Obviously, it's a very positive step up ...

"Hopefully (he) brings us great stability in that area for a long, long time.

"I wish I could stay and get to know him better right now."

Beilein was meeting the media ahead of a charter flight to New York, where Michigan will play Penn State at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

Beilein doesn't know much about Manuel, though he did get a great reference from Reggie Witherspoon, who was basketball coach during Warde's time at Buffalo. Warde left Buffalo for Connecticut, and he's leaving Connecticut for Michigan.

"Reggie had really good things to say about Warde when we talked prior to this whole process," Beilein said. "He knew he's a Michigan man, had a lot of respect for him.

Former UM AD Goss on Manuel: He was quick study

"The first time I ever met (Manuel) was in the Bahamas (in November, in a tournament Michigan and Connecticut were playing in), we spoke just for a minute as we were walking the mile-long walk from our hotel to the arena. I walked that mile with him.

"It was good to meet him and speak with him."

Beilein was hired by Bill Martin, who was succeeded by Dave Brandon.

Brandon resigned under public pressure last fall, and that brought in Hackett on an interim basis.

Hackett made clear in December he wasn't interested in the full-time job, but he made an incredible impact on a short-time basis, hiring football coach Jim Harbaugh, extending Beilein's contract and finalizing a lucrative deal with Nike, among other ventures.

"That was one stung and it was hard for everybody," Beilein said of Brandon's departure. "Jim Hackett was just absolutely incredible with coming in, providing smooth air for all of us as we went forward ... hiring a great football coach, getting with the apparel contract was a huge undertaking, he focused on what was really important and trusted the rest of his staff to keep the athletic program growing."

Manuel's resume checked off all the important boxes as Michigan went searching for its 12th athletic director. He played football at Michigan under Bo Schembechler, he previously worked in the Michigan athletic department, and he had experience as an athletic director at a major university.

He received a five-year deal that many at Michigan are hoping extends well beyond that, given the musical chairs its had in the athletic department in recent years.

Especially in Beilein's tenure.

"I really felt comfortable after listening to him today and talking with the people who know him, obviously, much better than I," Beilein said. "I expect this to be similar to the smooth transition we had with Jim Hackett."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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