BREAKING: Northwestern Hires Derrick Gragg as New Athletic Director

By John Volk

Northwestern’s tumultuous athletic director search has come to a close with the hiring of Derrick Gragg, the former Tulsa AD and current senior vice president of inclusion, education and community engagement at the NCAA. Northwestern announced the move Friday morning.

Gragg had served in the role at Tulsa since 2013 and had previously worked as Eastern Michigan’s AD from 2006-13. At Tulsa, he oversaw the university’s move from the C-USA to the AAC as well as the men’s basketball program’s first two NCAA Tournament appearances since 2003.

Gragg will officially take over July 1 from Interim Athletic Director and linguistics professor Robert Gundlach. Gundlach was thrust into the role after the controversial promotion and subsequent resignation of Mike Polisky over his involvement in two lawsuits, including one related to sexual harassment in the Northwestern cheerleading program. The initial vacancy arose when Jim Phillips left to become the next ACC commissioner after 13 years as Northwestern’s AD.

University President Morton Schapiro touted Gragg’s hire as “someone who can create the best possible environment for students, staff and coaches.”

In its statement announcing the move, Northwestern notes that Gragg has prioritized “providing a voice and allyship to people of color, women and the LGBTQ community” throughout his career in athletics, including in his ongoing role at the NCAA. Gragg is the first Black athletic director in Northwestern history.