Derrick Gragg to be Northwestern AD

Jun 4, 2021
Northwestern fan here. Derrick Gragg has been named the next AD at Northwestern. I've read the official bio and the hire seems to check all the boxes. Was wondering what you thought of him during his days as the Tulsa AD?
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I.T.S. Hall of Famer
Gold Member
Dec 25, 2004
Tulsa provided an opportunity for Dr Gragg to grow in his professional development. I think he would admit he wasn’t fully prepared for portions of the job when he arrived. He improved in some areas, but not in others.

Most mid level donors did not find him engaging and I think it’s fair to say that Dr Gragg would agree that he is an introvert. He’s the type of guy that goes to a cocktail reception attended by 50 people, knows 2, meets 3 new people over the course of an hour, and only one of them remembers his name twenty minutes later. I’ve been in the President’s suite for football and basketball and did not know he was in the room for more than an hour.

You may find purchasing a copy of his book helpful in understanding his personal and professional priorities. It’s available on Amazon. Your athletes will be scholars first and all will have every opportunity to graduate. If they don’t, it’s on them. His record on Title IX and all other compliance, a hot topic at NW, is impeccable.

He raised virtually no money at TU, but there were others on campus doing that and it wasn’t a day to day thing for him. He did not expand the donor base. I would guess it contracted on his watch but I don’t know.

That said, he was excellent one on one with key boosters. He forged some business relationships that resulted in stabilizing our program long term and put schools like Arkansas and Oklahoma State on our schedule long term with home games. Something we haven’t seen regularly for 50 years and far better ADs tried to accomplish and couldn’t.

I don’t think he will be your AD five years from now. He will either move up, move into the diversity space permanently, or you will buy him out.

I think Coach Fitzgerald will be satisfied with the hire. And that’s all that matters, right?

Looking forward to him signing a contract to bring TU to Evanston for a home game. I haven’t seen a game there since 1997. Some fond memories of going to your games when the program was on the rise in the mid-90s.

Good luck. Hope this was helpful.
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Serious Cat Circle of Honor
Gold Member
Dec 3, 2003
He got us a series with Oklahoma State (lots of money which guarantees survival of our football program) and managed to get Arkansas to play a game here, which has been a sore spot with our program for generations. That was really good.

He has next to no personality, made strange hires, and just isn’t fun. He was the beneficiary of a lot of momentum from really good ADs before him and didn’t do much other then the series described above. Some people within the department seem to like him, but I don’t know why.

The story I tell on here from time to time is about a trip my friends and family took to the Conference USA tournament in El Paso. We had a nice team, but weren’t the favorites to win. Still, we went because we were a fun team to watch. Other then family members and staff, there may have been two dozen fans there, including my group.

The first day of the tournament we are on two different flights with him. We are wearing Tulsa gear. Try to make eye contact with him and just say “hey.” He never lifts an eye. Our previous ADs mostly would have talked to us way too much. I remember making a similar trip and Bubna Cunningham cracking jokes with us about the refs and other coaches.

He did OK. Didn’t raise money. Isn’t outgoing. There was no controversy ever but no fun either. Also we cut programs while he was here,

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