The Wolverine

October 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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18 THE WOLVERINE OCTOBER 2022 BY JOHN BORTON M ichigan athletics director Warde Manuel recently con- tinued a decades-long tradi- tion of those in his position sitting down for an exclusive talk with The Wolverine. Manuel covers a lot of ground in this one, from a hugely successful last year for the Wolverines on the field, to massive changes in college athletics, to an optimistic look toward the future. The Wolverine: Michigan enjoyed a record year in 2021-22, capturing 13 conference champi- onships. What are your thoughts in looking back on that achievement? WARDE MANUEL: "Remarkable. Unbe- lievable. I don't know how many words I could use to describe it, and the joy and pride in what the student-athletes and coaches accomplished, across the board. "We set the record of 11 in 2004-2005, and we had tied it a couple of times in the last few years, with 11 conference championships. To get to 13, the way we did it? Some sports won for the first time, like women's golf. To see baseball come back and do it … "To see women's soccer do it and then advance as far as we ever had. To see what hockey did, in going to the Frozen Four. And obviously, to see football, the stu- dent-athletes, and Jim [Harbaugh] and his staff winning the Big Ten champion- ship for the first time in 17 years. "The storylines behind it were just un- believable to me. On top of that, we had 701 student-athletes with two consecu- tive semesters over 3.0 or higher as a cu- mulative GPA, the most we ever had. The most academic all-conference athletes we've ever had. "It just speaks to who these young people are, how well our coaches are re- cruiting in terms of finding that great combination of academic and athletic excellence. And on top of that, they're just great young people to be around. "For me, no matter what little bumps you have in the road, that is a climb I will never forget up the mountainside. "We're a competitive group. There are a lot of things we wish we could have done better. I think we finished second in either four conference tournaments or the regular season. I'm not going to be mad about that, either [laughs]. It's a pretty great accomplishment. "To finish third in the [Learfield] Directors' Cup [Division I all-sports standings] — all of it added up to a phe- nomenal year, because of the people, the student-athletes, the staff and the coaches. All that they had to go through, and still achieve the way they did, to stick together, just phenomenal." T W: Football obviously remains your most high-profile sport, the one that pays many bills. What did the breakthrough there mean in terms of morale and excitement? WM: "The impact of the Ohio State] game was priceless. It is captured in the video of the end of that game. That cap- tures it all. "If people weren't on the field, they didn't leave the stadium. They didn't leave the stands. They sat up there. I had friends who said, 'We sat in the stands for an hour and a half after the game. We just couldn't believe it in terms of the mag- nitude.' "Look, they have had our number for many years. We've had tough losses and not many wins, in the last 15, 20 years. We — that team, Jim and his staff — were on a mission. For everybody associated with that team, our fans, our former players, staff, families, donors, everybody, it's just priceless. "It made me speechless, just the way all Exclusive With The AD Warde Manuel Speaks From The Heart On Michigan Athletics Manuel led the Michigan athletics department to unprecedented success in 2021-22, high- lighted by a school-record 13 conference championships (12 Big Ten titles) and a third-place national finish in the Learfield Directors' Cup all-sports standings. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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