John Lambert Named Interim Athletic Director
Tripathi will conduct nation-wide search for Warde Manuel’s permanent replacement
Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Former Buffalo Athletic Director Warde Manuel announced that he would take the same position at the University of Connecticut earlier this week. The announcement has left Buffalo in a state of transition.
Some the confusion was cleared up Thursday, when President Satish K. Tripathi named senior associate athletic director John Lambert the interim athletic director to fill the void while the University searches for a permanent replacement.
"Warde spent a lot of time, while he was here, building continuity and a situation where we could all work collaboratively as a team and that's going to be his legacy," Lambert said. "And basically it's our intention during this transition process to implement those principles [and] keep those in place as we move forward."
Lambert arrived in Buffalo in 1996, was an integral part of moving Buffalo to Division 1 athletics, and is currently in charge of development for the athletic department. Lambert has earned the credentials to hold the athletic director position, but has made it very clear he has no intentions of taking the position long-term.
"I am a piece of the larger puzzle," Lambert said. "And that puzzle is an outstanding leadership team. That leadership team runs all the aspects of our operations here in athletics and that includes our coaches. If I can provide any type of leadership during this transition that's exactly what I told the president I would do. But no I don't have aspirations for the job."
The search has already commenced for Manuel's permanent replacement. Members of Tripathi's staff and Buffalo Athletics' leadership team have discussed how the search will be conducted. The search will be nation-wide and there is no indication whether the replacement will come from the outside or will be promoted from within.
One thing that is clear is the university will pick someone that will continue the traditions that Manuel has established during his time at Buffalo.
"I have every confidence that the university is going to be able to, through a national search, find someone who can continue to build on what Warde started here at UB," Lambert said. "Really it's a transition, and that's kind of where we are at today."
Manuel helped with the hiring of football coaches Turner Gill and Jeff Quinn. During his tenure, the Bulls won their first Mid-American Conference football championship and were invited to the school's first bowl game in 50 years. However, his focus on the classroom is what separated Manuel from many. He has ensured that all 20 teams at Buffalo are above the academic progress rate.
Manuel left abruptly during what is one of the most successful seasons the basketball team has had since moving to Division 1. However, college athletics does not take into consideration how well a team is performing when presenting personnel change opportunities.
"Unfortunately college athletics doesn't have a specific timetable for searches," Lambert said. "It's when the opportunities become available. And in this particular case, at UConn, the opportunity became available. It just happened to be that that's when it took place and subsequently that's why he had to take this opportunity. But I think Warde will still be here through the MAC tournament in Cleveland."
Lambert will continue to work closely with Warde until his departure next month as they have for the past seven years. Lambert explained that Warde will help him with any problems that may arise.
Lambert will continue to enrich Buffalo in any way he is needed during the transition while Tripathi looks for a new Athletic Director.
"I work with some of the best administrators, coaches and student-athletes in the country," Lambert said. "In this particular case, I'm just serving the president in whatever role he identifies to help facilitate that process. And he wants to facilitate that in a timely matter."
Lambert will officially become interim Athletic Director on March 14, about the same time Manuel will leave for Connecticut. Tripathi has stated that the timetable for naming a permanent Athletic Director is within three months.