WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Just because Danny Manning has yet to accept the position of head basketball coach at Wake Forest doesn’t mean he has turned down the opportunity.
Negotiations are continuing between Manning and Wake Forest, according to several people who are familiar with the situation but not authorized to comment publicly. Manning, who according to one source has been offered the job, met with Wake Forest officials on his visit to Winston-Salem on Wednesday and Thursday.
Ron Wellman, the director of athletics who is leading Wake Forest’s search, plans to attend this weekend’s men’s Final Four in North Texas. According to the Tulsa World, Manning is expected to travel to the Final Four as well without returning to Tulsa.
Manning, who has a 38-29 record in two seasons as Tulsa’s head coach, acknowledged to the Tulsa World on Tuesday that Wake Forest has shown considerable interest. He met with President Steadman Upham and Athletics Director Derrick Graggs on Tuesday to discuss the future of Tulsa basketball.
Afterward, he described the discussions as “very enlightening.”
He was asked by the Tulsa World when he expected to make a decision.
“When I’m ready,” Manning said. “I’ll sit down. Turn my phone off. Turn off my email. Visit with my wife and family and go from there.”
Wellman has a longstanding policy of not commenting on the viability of any candidate he is not ready to name as coach. On Wednesday, he discussed the search in general terms.
Wake Forest has been looking for a coach since Jeff Bzdelik resigned March 20 with a four-year record of 51-76.
“I won’t give any indication of where we are in the search — other than to say the search is going very well,” Wellman said. “It’s progressing nicely. The right people are interested in the job, so we’re very confident that the right person is going to be leading our basketball program in the future.”
Manning surfaced as a candidate, according to widespread media reports corroborated by multiple sources, after Wake Forest made a bid to lure Shaka Smart from Virginia Commonwealth. Although he has only two seasons of head-coaching experience, Manning spent nine seasons on the staff at Kansas, his alma mater.
Manning, 47, spent the final five seasons at Kansas as assistant to Coach Bill Self. During that time, the Jayhawks either won or shared five Big 12 championships, won the 2008 national championship and finished as national runners-up to Kentucky in 2012.
A native of Hattiesburg, Miss., Manning moved to Greensboro at age 5 when his father, Ed Manning, joined the Carolina Cougars of the ABA. Manning spent the rest of his childhood in Greensboro and played at Page High School before leaving to spend his senior year in Lawrence, Kan.
Manning led Kansas to the national championship in 1988, the season he was named national player of the year. He played for the United States in the 1988 Olympics and spent spending the next 15 seasons in the NBA.
He was twice named to the NBA All-Star team and was once named the NBA’s sixth man of the year.
Manning became the head coach at Tulsa in 2012 and directed a 2012-13 team with little experience to a 17-16 overall record and an 8-8 mark in Conference USA. The Golden Hurricane struggled early in 2013-14 before catching fire to win 11 straight games.
Tulsa defeated Louisiana Tech in the C-USA Tournament for the school’s first bid to the NCAA Tournament since 2003. The Golden Hurricane lost to UCLA in its first NCAA game to finish 21-13 overall.
Manning has been named a finalist for the Jim Phelan Award for Division I national coach of the year and the Ben Jobe Award for Division I minority national coach of the year.