Manning To Leave Tulsa For Wake Forest

Friday, April 4th 2014, 9:32 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa men's basketball coach Danny Manning is leaving the Golden Hurricane to become the men's basketball coach at Wake Forest. 

Tulsa athletic director Derrick Gragg confirmed Manning's resignation this morning.

"In his two seasons, Coach Manning has helped elevate our basketball program to a level that our fans expect –– conference championships and NCAA tournament appearances," Gragg said. "There's no question that the reputation of Tulsa basketball, our recent success and the student-athletes in the program will be attractive to the most qualified coaches."

Manning leaves after two seasons with the Golden Hurricane, exactly two years after he was introduced as the new head coach at Tulsa. Manning led the Golden Hurricane to a Conference USA regular season and tournament title this year. Tulsa was eliminated from the NCAA tournament by UCLA in the second round. 

Sources told NewsOn6 that Tulsa made several lucrative offers to keep Manning, including raising his salary to $1.2 million, giving his assistant coaches as well and allowing him use of charter flights for recruiting. 

"Under President (Steadman) Upham's leadership, the presentation made to Coach Manning in recent contract negotiations was an attractive and competitive offer," Gragg said. "President Upham is committed to return Tulsa basketball to an elite level. The commitment he has displayed in this recent process is second to none that I have encountered during my 21 years as an athletic administrator."

Ultimately, it wasn't enough to keep Manning, who couldn't pass up the opportunity to coach in the ACC. He replaces Jeff Bzdelik, who struggled in his four seasons at Wake Forest, going 51-76 overall and 17-51 in ACC play. 

"He told me he wants to compete in the ACC," Gragg said. "That's one thing we couldn't address."

Tulsa will once again be looking for a new basketball coach after losing another bright coaching star. Some possibilities that have surfaced are Florida-Gulf Coast coach Joe Dooley, a former Kansas assistant with Manning, and current KU assistant Norm Roberts. Valparaiso coach Bryce Drew has also been mentioned as a possibility. Gragg said no timeline for finding a new coach has been established. 

Whoever is hired at Tulsa will inherit a roster that loses just a single player from this past season's conference title team. The Golden Hurricane will also be facing more substantial competition next year with the move to the American Athletic Conference.