“My plans moving forward, first is to listen,” Mann said at the beginning of his remarks to the press and public. “I have a lot to learn about this place. What I know so far, I love. When it comes to working at William & Mary and being a part of the student-athlete experience, I am all in. When it comes to moving this university forward through our athletics mission, I’m all in.”
Mann, who most recently served as the senior athletics director at the University of California – Berkeley, said that his focus will be on the athletes.
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“Everything we do starts and ends with student-athletes and their experience,” he said. “It will be our goal to create a world class student-athlete experience. That goes into developing the whole human being and I do not believe you can have a world class student-athlete experience if you are not competing for championships.”
Mann, who has been involved in collegiate sports for most of his adult life, played quarterback for Dartmouth College and was a four year letterman. After graduating, he had a stint playing in the Arena Football League and working as a stuntman in movies about football. Most notably as Adam Sandler’s stunt double in the movie “The Longest Yard.” After working in the healthcare sector he took a position in his alma mater’s athletic department. From there, he was hired on at Rice University in Houston as the chief development officer and senior associate athletic director.
Mann is taking the W&M helm at a critical time in the athletic department’s history. The program is still reeling after his predecessor, Samantha Huge, announced that the school was disbanding seven sports teams starting in 2021-2022 school year. The cuts were made in hopes of saving the program money, but instead incurred the wrath of students and alumni. Huge resigned last October as a result of the controversy and the teams have since been reinstated under Jeremy Martin, the interim Athletics Director.
When asked about what he planned to do to fix the broken trust between the administration and the W&M community, Mann spoke of a similar situation at University of California Berkeley: “You, lean into it. You talk to people openly, honestly, authentically,” he said. “You ask for feedback and support. If you say you are going to do something, you do it.”