Warde Manuel wants to keep baseball's Erik Bakich at Michigan

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News

Ann Arbor — Michigan athletic director Warde Manuel is well aware that with baseball coach Erik Bakich’s run of success taking the Wolverines to the College World Series for the first time in 35 years, other teams will begin pursuit of Bakich.

Michigan head baseball coach Erik Bakich waves goodbye as the team is sent off by fans from Ray Fisher Stadium to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb., on Wednesday, June 12, 2019. It's Michigan's first trip to the CWS since 1984.

South Carolina and Stanford were interested two years ago in hiring him away from Michigan. He is completing his seventh season with the Wolverines. They were one of the four final teams into the NCAA Tournament, won two West Coast regionals and face Texas Tech Friday afternoon in Omaha, Nebraska. If they win, they advance to the championship series. If they lose, they will have another chance on Saturday to advance.

Bakich signed a new five-year contract in October 2017 that doubled his salary to $400,000 annually. He also received a $200,000 signing bonus. So far this postseason, Bakich has earned $70,000 in bonuses for making the NCAA Tournament and College World Series. He will get $30,000 if the Wolverines win it all.

Manuel was asked Thursday, after presenting the athletic department budget to university Regents, if he plans to work with Bakich on making certain he stays at Michigan.

“I want Erik to be the coach here, and he knows that,” Manuel said. “But now is the time to focus on supporting Erik and this team, and we’ll deal with that once, hopefully, the championship season is over.”

Michigan president Mark Schlissel in his opening remarks to the Regents mentioned the baseball team’s postseason run and wished them well. Manuel will be heading to Omaha for the World Series on Friday.

“They’re unbelievable. They’re resilient,” Manuel said. “Their effort, their love for each other, the way they play together. I go back to when Chris (Bullock) dropped the ball, when he lost it in the lights or the air (in Game 2 of the Super Regional at UCLA). They never got down. They didn’t get down on him. They didn’t hang their heads. We ended up losing that game, but the way they bounced back showed who they are as a group, who Erik is as a leader of the group and of the coaches. The way they stick together and fight. That was impressive to me.”

South Africa excursion

Michigan’s football team made its third overseas spring trip last month when it traveled to South Africa. The Wolverines began in Cape Town and visited Johannesburg and took a safari. Michigan went to Rome in 2017 and Paris in 2018. All the trips have been paid for by donors.

Manuel didn’t have an overall price tag for this most recent trip.

“It cost about $7,500 to $8,000 a person in the end,” Manuel said. “We’re working on all the numbers. Almost everyone wanted to go. Everyone was engaged. It was really a great feedback from the students, as on the staff — eyes wide open, too. We do this because want it for the student-athlete and the team camaraderie and all the things that build up. From the start to the finish, it was a remarkable experience.”

Michigan alum Bobby Kotick paid for the team’s trip to Rome, and last year Kotick and Michigan alum Don Graham split the bill that was about $800,000 for the Paris trip. The donors had wished to remain anonymous, but Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh spilled the beans last year in Paris. Manuel said “three or four donors” funded the trip to South Africa.

Howard is getting feet wet

New Michigan basketball coach Juwan Howard and his staff are off and running on the recruiting trail, and he’s learning the ropes as a college head coach along the way.

“He’s off to a great start,” Manuel said. “Really pleased with him and the new staff. Met with them a week ago and really impressed by him. He continues to work and learning everything while moving forward. By learning everything, I mean all the rules, the ins and outs of being a head coach in college. I’m impressed with his level of effort and what he’s doing. He’s embracing it in a significant way. He wants to be good. He wants his team to have success, so he’s driving himself and his assistants to do everything they can for this year and upcoming years.”


Twitter: @chengelis