Dr. Derrick Gragg is in his fifth year as The University of Tulsa’s vice president and director of athletics. He was appointed to the position on March 20, 2013, and began his tenure with the Golden Hurricane 39 days later.
During his first four years, Gragg has overseen Tulsa’s transition into the American Athletic Conference and in 2014-15 he administered the development and implementation of the athletic department’s Strategic Plan. Within his first 20 months, Gragg announced the hiring of Missouri head basketball coach Frank Haith as Tulsa’s new head coach in April 2014, appointed former Women’s British Open Champion Emilee Klein-Gille as the school’s women’s golf coach and, in December 2014, chose Baylor offensive coordinator Philip Montgomery, one of the nation’s brightest offensive minds, to coach the Golden Hurricane football team.
Under Gragg’s leadership, Tulsa teams have won a total of 20 league championships and advanced to postseason competition 41 times. Student-athletes have earned All-America accolades 21 times and seven have been selected as CoSIDA Academic All-Americans since his arrival.
In Tulsa’s three years as a member of The American, more than half of Golden Hurricane student-athletes have been named to the league’s academic team each year. A season ago, Tulsa teams won four league titles, including softball winning both the regular season and postseason crowns, while 12 teams advanced to the postseason. The 2015-16 season saw Hurricane teams win five league championships with 11 teams participating in the postseason. It was the first time in school history that football reached a bowl game and men’s basketball made the NCAA Tournament in the same year. In 2014-15, Tulsa teams won four league titles in the school’s first year as a conference member and 10 teams advanced to post-season competition.
Tulsa’s graduation success rate during Gragg’s tenure has reached over 85-percent, while community service hours continue to rise, surpassing 5,000 hours in each of the last two years.
Before coming to Tulsa, Gragg spent seven years as the Director of Athletics at Eastern Michigan University, where he was responsible for an intercollegiate athletic program with 21 teams, 550 student-athletes and 80 staff members. Gragg’s experience covers 20 years in progressively advanced roles at the universities of Arkansas, Michigan, Missouri and Vanderbilt.
Under Gragg’s leadership, Eastern Michigan enjoyed successful campaigns not only on the field, but also in the classroom. EMU athletic teams accumulated 22 Mid-American Conference (MAC) championships in that time. Meanwhile, Eastern Michigan’s student-athlete graduation rate exceeded the general student body graduation rate by 20%. Impressively the EMU student-athletes posted the highest cumulative grade point average in history four consecutive semesters during Gragg’s tenure.
Eastern Michigan also saw its athletic fundraising levels reach new heights with four of the top five funding years occurring under Gragg’s tenure as athletic director. Additionally, Gragg spearheaded the construction of EMU’s $3.9 million multipurpose indoor athletic practice facility and was nationally recognized for his leadership, earning the Black Coaches & Administrators (BCA) Administrator of the Year Award in 2008-09.
Gragg spent six years at the University of Arkansas before his appointment at Eastern Michigan. He joined Arkansas in 2000 as an associate athletic director and was promoted to senior associate athletic director in 2003 and then to deputy athletic director. In his tenure at Arkansas, Gragg was involved in various areas including: athletic administration, sport program oversight, marketing, sports information, recruitment, budgeting, student-athlete support, compliance, facilities and game management, fund-raising and research.
Before that, Gragg spent three years as assistant athletic director for compliance at Michigan beginning his tenure in 1997. Previously, he was the director of compliance and operations at Missouri from 1995-97. During his two years in Columbia, he was the game event manager for 10 Olympic sports programs and chairman of the Big 12 Compliance Coordinators Group during his last year as compliance coordinator at the university.
Gragg began his career in athletic administration at his alma mater, Vanderbilt, where he served from 1993 to 1995 as an academic counselor before adding the title of director of student life in his final year.
During his career, Gragg has published several articles and editorials on intercollegiate athletics as well as a nationwide study on sports-related gambling. He has been a presenter and panelist at events such as the NCAA Future Coaches Academy, Champions for Athletic Directors and Football Coaches, Emerging Administrators Academy Professional Development Conference and the NCAA Annual Convention. Gragg also authorized two Title IX studies while demonstrating continual improvement in Title IX compliance and gender equity issues.
Gragg currently serves as a member of the NCAA DI Postseason Football Bowl Game Ad Hoc Working Group, the ITA’s Athletic Director’s Advisory Group on College Tennis and the NACDA Division I-A Athletic Directors Scholarship Ad Hoc Steering Committee. Gragg was also recently named to the NCAA’s Division I Nominating Committee. He also served as a member of the NCAA’s Legislative Council, the American Athletic Conference’s Athletic Directors Council and as the Chair of the AAC’s Finance Committee. Beginning in August of 2017, he will serve as a member of the AAC’s Commissioner’s Television Partner Committee.
In October 2015, Gragg released his first book titled “40 Days of Direction: Life Lessons from the Talented Ten”, which shares life experiences as a collegiate athlete in hopes to provide a blueprint for today’s student-athlete.
A former collegiate wide receiver, Gragg lettered four years at Vanderbilt while earning his bachelor’s degree in human development in 1992. He earned his master’s degree in sports administration from Wayne State University in 1999. Gragg received his doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas in May of 2004 and also taught over a dozen college courses during his tenure there as an athletic administrator.
A native of Huntsville, Ala., Gragg was inducted into the Huntsville-Madison County (Ala.) Athletic Hall of Fame in 2010. He is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA).
Gragg, 47 (11-19-69), and his wife, Sanya, have four children: daughters De’Sha and Saniyah; and sons Avery, a football student-athlete at The University of Tulsa, and Phillip-Raymond.