Head Basketball Coach Danny Manning Ousted


Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Mar 1, 2016; Durham, NC, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons head coach Danny Manning gives instructions to his players in their game against the Duke Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Dolejs-USA TODAY Sports

Christian Odjakjian

Danny Manning’s six years as head coach of the Wake Forest Men’s Basketball team came to an end on Saturday, 45 days after Wake Forest lost to Pittsburgh in the opening round of the ACC tournament. 

“After a comprehensive review of the men’s basketball program, and with the support of President Hatch and University leadership, I have determined that it is time for a change in our head coaching position,” said Wake Forest Athletic Director John Currie via a press release.

“I am very thankful for having had the opportunity to lead the Wake Forest men’s basketball program,” Manning said. “I am very proud of the numerous student-athletes I had the pleasure of coaching, especially the student-athletes who earned their degrees. I am particularly thankful for all of the hard work my staff has put in through the years. I am so grateful to the Wake Forest community, who have made Winston-Salem a special home for my family and I from the second we stepped on campus in 2014. I wish the program nothing but success going forward.”

Associate head coach Randolph Childress will serve as the acting head coach.

Manning was under contract through the end of the 2024-25 season, and is reportedly owed $15 million dollars as part of his buyout, a figure that Currie refused to confirm.

“I would caution against assuming the accuracy of any (buyout) figure speculated in the media,” Currie said in an online press conference.

Manning’s final resume as Head Coach of the Deacs consists of a 78-111 record across six seasons, including a 30-80 mark in the ACC. The Deacs never finished better than 10th in the conference during his tenure. Manning won more than 13 games only once during his time in Winston-Salem, that being the 2016-17 squad led by John Collins that squeaked into the NCAA Tournament with 19 victories.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, undergoing a coaching change is undoubtedly more of a challenge than it would be if things were normal. It’s the end of April, and Wake Forest is the only power conference school searching for a new head coach. The benefit of Wake Forest deciding to make a change during this time is that they won’t have to compete with other schools for their top candidates.

The question now becomes who Manning’s replacement will be, and Currie has a strong pool of options.

The most likely candidates are a pair of Southern Conference coaches who have been very successful in recent seasons: East Tennessee State’s Steve Forbes, and UNC Greeensboro’s Wes Miller. Forbes is much older than Miller, and also boasts more experience as a high major assistant for years. Miller was a former walk on player at Chapel Hill, and his parents are long-time donors of Wake Forest. 

The dream scenario would be to bring in former Michigan Coach John Belien, who is available after his failed NBA experiment with the Cleveland Cavaliers. It’s unlikely that Wake Forest will be able to offer enough money to lure Belien, but if the rumors are true that he wants to get back to coaching in the NCAA next season, Winston-Salem is his best option at the moment.

Other names that have been tossed around include Winthrop’s Pat Kelsey and UMBC’s Ryan Odom, who both have ties to Wake Forest.

Manning’s departure could affect the current roster makeup, as others could join Chaundee Brown in the transfer portal. Class of 2021 recruit Trey James decommitted from Wake Forest shortly after Manning’s firing.