Warde Manuel didn’t return to Michigan with much unfinished business.
Michigan’s newly hired athletic director previously worked under Bill Martin, serving in various athletic department roles from 1996 to 2005, including associate athletic director starting in 2000. But upon returning, Manuel’s to-do list doesn’t have much carry-over from his previous stint. Michigan Stadium and Crisler Center have undergone renovations. The wrestling team has a practice facility. The basketball facilities have been upgraded. He even came back for the opening of the Ross Academic Success Center, a project he called “my biggest thing when I was here.”
With those projects all completed, Manuel now turns his attention a new set of considerations, including expanded weight facilities for the football team.
“The way to train and the different ways that athletes are training — this is not just in Schembechler, when you look at all of our facilities — there is a space demand for training and for the different ways now to train student-athletes,” Manuel told the Daily on Friday. “Not that coach Harbaugh has this in mind, but I know one of the big demands now for space in weight rooms is to be able to do, for lack of a better term, yoga-type activities while you also train.
“You need space for equipment, but you also need additional open space to do different stretching, different exercises.”
Schembechler Hall was last renovated in 2014, when the new Towsley Museum was unveiled. But according to Jim Hackett in a February interview on WTKA, those renovations did not address the weight room.
And as other programs around the country, and even programs in other sports, continue to develop new training methods and expand their facilities, Michigan naturally wants to keep up with the latest innovations.
“Our coaches are very competitive,” Manuel said. “They want the best support services, whether it’s academics or training or strength, they want the best facilities to train and recruit student athletes.
“They see, when they go to other places around the country, just like I do, what facilities are there, how our facilities can be improved, what ideas can you pull from there?”
Michigan’s on-field football product took a significant step up in 2015, going 10-3 and winning the Citrus Bowl. But with the top tier of facilities constantly evolving, the need persists to upgrade to impress recruits and keep up with training trends. That leaves Manuel to determine what is feasible to get done and how.
“My tendency is to focus on, in a simplistic term, what do we need to be successful and what are the wants?” Manuel said. “I try to provide the needs of each of the programs and, when we can, infuse the wants into those programs to keep them at a championship program and competing for championships.”