Carthage picks ‘rising star’ Michelle Manning to lead athletics program
Culminating its first search for a director of athletics since 1992, Carthage has hired emerging leader Michelle Manning to guide its NCAA Division III sports program through the next phase in its growth.
Ms. Manning brings a multifaceted perspective to the Athletic Department, thanks to her documented success as a senior administrator, coach, and competitor. She will succeed Bob Bonn, who plans to retire in June after an influential 26-year career.
Balancing multiple leadership roles at Ithaca (New York) College for the past seven years, Ms. Manning supervises coaches, coordinates postseason tournaments, drives sport equity initiatives, and ensures compliance with NCAA regulations.
Susan Bassett, director of athletics at Ithaca College, a prominent leader in Division III athletics, promoted her in 2015 to associate director of athletics for finance and administration. Ms. Manning streamlined the budget process, launched student-athlete development programming, and assisted in a major facility renovation.
“Michelle Manning is a wonderful addition to Carthage and its leadership team,” said President John Swallow. “Her steady advancement under Susan Bassett reflects her ability to serve as a valued partner on progressively more complex initiatives. I’m thrilled that Michelle will join us and build on the tremendous foundation that Bob Bonn laid over his long career.”
Expressing gratitude to her Ithaca colleagues for “incredible memories and experiences,” the incoming director feels both “honored and thrilled” to lead the Carthage program forward.
“I want to thank President Swallow and the search committee for this opportunity to work with talented and dedicated student-athletes, coaches, and staff,” Ms. Manning said. “I appreciate Carthage’s long-standing tradition of academic and athletic excellence and the important role athletics plays in the overall student experience.”
She enters a thriving program that has raised 117 banners — signifying conference championships and top-eight national finishes — on her predecessor’s watch. Last year, nearly 30 percent of Carthage’s 2,600 full-time students competed on the 24 varsity teams, earning an average GPA of 3.2 and devoting 1,100 hours of collective service.
The search drew more than 100 applicants. From that pool, a cross-functional advisory committee strongly endorsed Ms. Manning.
“Michelle is bringing to Carthage extensive experience in coaching and administration at academically strong institutions,” said Professor Catherine Lau, chair of the search committee and Carthage’s faculty athletic representative to the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin. “I feel she will be a unifying presence on campus, supporting our student-athletes and coaches, and leading our Athletic Department toward even greater success.”
Other members of the committee were:
- Deanna Byrnes, dean for the Division of Natural and Social Sciences
- Kimberlie Goldsberry, vice president for student affairs
- Nick Mulvey, vice president for enrollment
- David Neff, men’s lacrosse head coach
- Leanne Ulmer, women’s volleyball head coach
- David Wiers ’98, trustee
One of a select few invited to participate, Ms. Manning completed a pair of highly competitive NCAA fellowship programs for future athletic directors in 2016 and 2017.
“Michelle is a rising star in athletics administration,” said Ms. Bassett, her supervisor at Ithaca. “She has been instrumental to the success of every aspect of our comprehensive athletics program.”
Before transitioning to full-time administrator, Ms. Manning coached softball, women’s volleyball, or both at four other Division III schools in the South and Midwest. Her last coaching stint covered five seasons at Transylvania University in Kentucky, where Ms. Manning led the softball team to three conference championships and the 2010 NCAA tournament.
A longtime member of the national Division III softball committee, Ms. Manning is serving a two-year term as elected chair of the NCAA panel. That was the primary sport in her own athletic career, as the first baseman made the all-region softball team in all four seasons (1997-2000) she competed for Mount Union College in Ohio.
She is tentatively scheduled to start July 9, and Mr. Bonn will assist in the transition.
Ms. Manning holds a master’s degree in athletic coaching education from West Virginia University and a bachelor’s in sport management, marketing, and recreation from Mount Union. She enjoys hiking and biking and is eager to explore the outdoors scene in Kenosha.