EVANSTON, Ill. – Less than a month after the resignation of their first replacement for Jim Phillips, Northwestern has picked a new person to lead their athletic department into the future.
On Friday morning, the university announced that Dr. Derrick Gragg has been hired as the school’s new athletic director, arriving in Evanston after serving as the NCAA’s senior VP for inclusion, education, and community engagement.
He will formally introduced by Northwestern on June 7th and will start in his new role on July 1st.
“I am thrilled and humbled to join the Northwestern University family at this pivotal moment in college athletics,” said Dr. Gragg in a statement released by the university. “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.”
He replaces Mike Polisky, who initially was hired to be the replacement for Phillips, who is leaving the school to become commissioner of the ACC. But after his hire, many were critical of Polisky’s handling of sexual harassment and racism claims that were brought by former cheerleaders, leading to protests on campus.
On May 12th, Polisky announced his resignation, just ten days after taking the job.
Dr. Gragg started his role with the NCAA in the fall, helping the organization’s efforts for diversity, equality, and inclusion. Before starting in that role, he served as an athletic director at Eastern Michigan from 2006-2013 then held the same role at Tulsa from 2013-2020.
A native of Huntsville, Alabama, Dr. Gragg graduated from Vanderbilt University, where he played football. He would earn his master’s from Wayne State University and his doctorate in higher education administration from University of Arkansas.