With Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh and men’s basketball coach John Beilein both secured to long-term contracts, one of the more pressing issues new athletic director Warde Manuel may have to handle in his first few months is the future of the Michigan hockey program.
Red Berenson, 76, is in his 32nd year as head coach of the team, and his contract expires after this season. As interim Athletic Director Jim Hackett did, Manuel made it clear that Berenson’s future is up to Berenson alone. But when Berenson does decide to move on, Manuel will seek his input on the next head coach.
As the athletic director at Connecticut, where he has worked since 2012, Manuel had to replace Hall of Fame men’s basketball coach Jim Calhoun after Calhoun retired just before the 2012-13 season. Manuel sought Calhoun’s advice on a successor and settled on Kevin Ollie — who won a national championship in his second season.
Manuel plans on placing similar value in Berenson’s opinion of his successor.
“I can’t think of a better adviser to me of who would be best head coach at the University of Michigan for our hockey program,” Manuel told the Daily on Friday afternoon.
He even sought Berenson’s input in 2013, when he hired Mike Cavanaugh to be the new hockey coach at UConn.
“I’m hopeful that (Berenson will) agree whenever he retires — and that’s on him — to sit right next to me and talk about coaches and be able to provide me with his advice and thoughts on who the next coach is going to be,” Manuel said. “He will have a significant role in the discussion of who is going to be the next head coach for our hockey program.”
Since he was hired, Manuel hasn’t yet talked to Berenson, who was the coach when Manuel left Michigan as an associate athletic director in 2005 and even when Manuel was a student in the 1980s. But as he returns to his alma mater, Manuel is looking forward to reacquainting himself with Berenson and the hockey program.
“I hope that this year is not his last year,” Manuel said. “I hope I get a chance to be here and to watch his team on ice again. But if he decides that this is his last year, then certainly he will have a significant role in the process.”