Wake Forest completed its fourth losing season in five years under coach Danny Manning — and its third with an 11-20 record — at the ACC Tournament last week.
But apparently that was enough to earn Manning at least one more season with the Deacons.
Retiring athletic director Ron Wellman made the announcement Friday morning, just over a month before he is scheduled to hand over control of Wake’s program to his incoming successor Jon Currie.
“Following the season, Danny and I had an extensive series of meetings to discuss the future of the program,” Wellman said in a statement. “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.”
Manning has compiled a 65-93 record (24-66 ACC) since being hired to replace Jeff Bzdelik in 2014. His only winning season came in 2016-17, when the Deacons went 19-14 and were beaten in the First Four of the NCAA Tournament.
One reason for his retention could be financial. Wake would have to pay Manning nearly $18 million after signing him last year to a six-year guaranteed extension that runs through 2025.
Another factor, directly cited by Wellman in his statement, is the youth of this year’s team. The Deacons’ top seven scorers and nine of the top 10 in 2018-19 have eligibility remaining for next season.
But while those players combined for 92 percent of the Demon Deacons’ minutes last season, Manning has had a problem with retention during his time at Wake. No fewer than 17 players have left the program by either transfer, early entry into the NBA Draft or disciplinary action under his watch.
It is yet to be seen who, if any, will leave this offseason or if the core group led by five-star recruit Jaylen Hoard, veteran point guard Brandon Childress and emerging small forward Chaundee Brown is the “foundation for future success” Manning hopes they will be.
“We didn’t have the record we wanted last season, but our team showed its potential, especially toward the end of the season,” Manning said. “This group of players kept fighting and improved throughout the year.
“With our returning players, our transfers who will become eligible next season and our incoming recruiting class, I believe that this team will have the ability, desire and chemistry to take a step forward next season.”