STORRS -- A new chapter began Tuesday in the athletic department at UConn.
David Benedict was introduced as the schools new Athletic Director, replacing Warde Manuel who took the head job in the athletics department at the University of Michigan.
Benedict started by thanking his wife Lisa and sons Jake and Sam, and his parents in Arizona. He said he was humbled to be given the opportunity to lead the program at UConn.
"This is a Power 5 program... all day, every day," said in Benedict in response to a question about how he viewed the caliber of the school. "We have success in winning national championships, we have a supportive president and leader, and we have supportive donors. I think from a conference affiliation standpoint, our job is to make sure we are competing and dominating whatever conference we are currently competing in. We're going to make sure that we position ourselves so that we can remain competitive nationally in all our sports."
He said he wanted the job at UConn because of the schools history, tradition and record of success.
"UConn not just an elite athletics program. It is one of the top public schools in the country," said Benedict. "No one will have higher expectations than I."
He stressed the program would compete at everything, winning on the field and in the classroom. Benedict said coaches must deliver on the promises made in the recruitment process. He said he wanted to foster engagement with UConn's former letter winners in order to keep them as part of the program. He wants to make the game day experience one of the best in the country in partnership with the student body, fans, alumni, and residents of the state.
Benedict said he wanted the program to always operate with integrity and being a responsible steward of the program's resources. He said he hoped to develop a strong relationship with the schools corporate partners.
The search committee took less than a month to decide on Benedict, who comes to Storrs from Auburn University where he was the chief operating officer for the athletic department.
The 44-year old was one of nine people interviewed for the job but quickly impressed the search committee prompting immediate praise from UConn President Susan Herbst.
"We sought a leader whose grasp of the national landscape and relentless pursuit of excellence would be second to none," said Herbst. "I am very happy we found exactly what we were looking for in David Benedict."
Benedict was second in command in Auburn's athletic department where he ran the day-to-day operations, including overseeing a $120 million budget. At UConn, he will manage a budget of around $70 million.
Benedict brings Husky Nation a wealth of experience from stops all over the country. In addition to Auburn, he's been in leadership positions at the University of Minnesota, Virginia Commonwealth University, Long Beach State and Arizona State dating back to 1996. He holds a master's degree from New Mexico Highlands.
One of Benedict's biggest challenges will be working on UConn's future conference affiliations. Outgoing AD Warde Manuel and the current administration were not able to secure an invitation to join one of the Power Five conferences after splitting away from the old Big East. The Huskies currently play in the American Athletic Conference.