Northwestern University re-assigns Dr. Derrick Gragg from AD to Vice President for Athletic Strategy

Northwestern University announced Thursday the creation of a new role, Vice President for Athletic Strategy, appointing Dr. Derrick Gragg to oversee the university’s athletics strategy amid significant changes in college sports.

Gragg, currently the Combe Family Vice President for Athletics and Recreation, will transition to the new position once a new athletic director is named.

Northwestern appointed Gragg as its athletic director in July 2021, hiring him from Tulsa. He filled the vacancy left by Jim Phillips, who left Evanston to be the next commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

The appointment comes as universities nationwide adapt to changes including Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) rights and the House v. NCAA settlement, which introduces direct revenue sharing with student-athletes. In his new role, Gragg will advise the president and the AD on these issues.

"Derrick has been an asset to Northwestern, achieving remarkable accomplishments," said Northwestern President Michael Schill. "His expertise will be crucial as we navigate the future of collegiate athletics."

EVANSTON, ILLINOIS - JANUARY 27: Athletic Director Derrick Gragg of the Northwestern Wildcats looks on against the Ohio State Buckeyesat Welsh-Ryan Arena on January 27, 2024 in Evanston, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

The search for a new athletic director will begin immediately, with Dr. Gragg assisting in the transition.

This move comes as Northwestern continues to navigate the fallout of multiple hazing scandals. The most notorious being the hazing scandal surrounding the football team and its former head coach, Pat Fitzgerald.

Northwestern also navigated with allegations against the baseball coaching staff, as three NU Athletics staff members claim they were retaliated against by being demoted from their positions when they reported NCAA violations against former head baseball coach Jim Foster.

This move will keep Gragg in the decision-making process with Northwestern Athletics. However, this move will appoint a new head to make final decisions within athletics.

The new AD will oversee the construction of the renovated Ryan Field, set to be completed in 2026, along with other changing topics in college athletics. The two most important coaching positions at Northwestern, men's basketball coach Chris Collins and football coach David Braun, are set. This leaves a solidified coaching staff across NU athletics for the next AD to oversee.

However, this new AD will continue to navigate the resulting fall out from multiple scandals that rocked the university.


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