Northwestern names Derrick Gragg, an NCAA vice president, as its new athletic director

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After Northwestern’s last athletic director resigned after just 10 days on the job, the Wildcats have tabbed another new leader for their athletic department. Derrick Gragg, formerly the NCAA’s senior vice president for inclusion, education and community engagement, will begin the job on July 1, Northwestern announced Friday.

“I am thrilled and humbled to join the Northwestern University family at this pivotal moment in college athletics,” Gragg said. “My career has been shaped by an unwavering belief in the potential of student-athletes to excel in all areas. These young people need more support than ever in the midst of challenging, changing and exciting times. I look forward to joining an incredible roster of coaches and staff in Evanston on this collaborative mission to help our Wildcats achieve at the highest level as students, as athletes and as people.”

Gragg previously worked as the athletic director at Tulsa and Eastern Michigan before taking his role at the NCAA. The former Vanderbilt football player will be introduced at Northwestern in a press conference on Monday.

“It was essential for us to find the right leader for the next chapter at Northwestern — someone who can build both academic and athletic excellence at a time of rapid change in the intercollegiate sports landscape, and also someone who can create the best possible environment for students, staff and coaches,” Northwestern president Morton Schapiro said. “After talking extensively with Derrick, it was clear that he was the ideal person for the job.”

At Northwestern, Gragg will replace Mike Polisky, who was on the job for less than two weeks before resigning amid controversy surrounding his promotion from his prior post as deputy athletic director for external affairs. Detractors criticized Polisky’s hiring because he was among four defendants in a lawsuit filed against the university in January by a former Northwestern cheerleader.

Prior to Polisky’s brief tenure, Jim Phillips held the post for 13 years before leaving to become the ACC commissioner. 

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