Danny Manning will return as coach of Wake Forest’s men’s basketball team, the school announced Friday morning.
Manning is 65-93 in five seasons as the Deacons’ coach, having guided Wake Forest to the NCAA Tournament’s First Four in 2017 but also having been at the helm for three of the five 20-loss seasons in program history.
“Following the season, Danny and I had an extensive series of meetings to discuss the future of the program,” Athletics Director Ron Wellman said. “We were in agreement that this past season did not approach the expectations either of us has for Wake Forest basketball. Our discussion focused on the steps that are needed to ensure that our team is highly competitive on the court next season.
“I expect that Danny will take the steps needed to show improvement on the court next season while continuing to lead our student-athletes to represent Wake Forest positively in the classroom and in the community.”
Wake Forest went 11-20 this season, the third time in the last four years with that record. The program had recorded only two 20-loss seasons before Manning’s tenure. Manning's record at Wake Forest is a combined 65-93 and 24-66 in the ACC. The Deacons are 1-5 in the ACC Tournament under Manning and have played in the first round every year. Manning's teams have never beat Duke, North Carolina, Virginia or Clemson, going a combined 0-26 against them — and 24-40 against the rest of the league.
Wake Forest went 22-39 in Manning’s first two seasons at the helm, including a 1-15 skid to end his second season. That was followed up with a 19-14 season in 2016-17 that culminated in reaching the NCAA Tournament's First Four, which is the program's lone post-season appearance in the last nine seasons.
Manning’s fifth season started with Wake Forest at 3-1, losing the first game in the Myrtle Beach Invitational but winning the last two games and showing some measured progress.
January brought the start of ACC play, in which the Deacons lost seven of the first eight games — the lone win coming against No. 15 N.C. State.
On Feb. 16, North Carolina scored the first 18 points of the game and things only got worse from there, until the final score of 95-57 represented the worst loss in both Joel Coliseum history and in the history of the teams’ series.
That was the 472nd game that Wake Forest had played at its home court. It was the 227th time that North Carolina and Wake Forest had played each other.
The 65-57 loss March 9 against Florida State in the regular-season finale made Wake Forest 84-64 at Joel Coliseum over the last nine seasons. In the previous 21, the Deacons were 269-58.
A contract extension for Manning was announced in late November of 2017, when the Deacons were mired in their worst start in 50 years. The length of the deal was never announced, though Jeff Goodman, who worked for ESPN at the time, reported that the contract ran through the 2024-25 season. Goodman reported during the 2018-19 season that the buyout figure was $18 million, though that was neither confirmed nor denied by Wake Forest.
“Danny is attracting highly rated and quality young men to our program and he has proven his ability to develop that talent,” athletics director Ron Wellman said when the extension was announced. “Our program will continue to improve and we will realize the lofty goals that we have.”
Manning came to Wake Forest after a two-year stint at Tulsa, where he guided the Golden Hurricanes to the NCAA Tournament in his second season. That came on the strength of an 11-game winning streak, the last three of those coming in the Conference USA Tournament, before a first-round loss to UCLA. Less than two weeks after that, Manning was hired at Wake Forest.