In a year in which the University of Tulsa’s president stepped down, its athletics director is now moving on as well.
TU Vice President and Director of Athletics Derrick Gragg is leaving Sept. 17 to become senior vice president for inclusion, education and community engagement at the NCAA. Gragg, who is one of the nation’s few Black college athletics administrators, said the brand-new position is one he would have considered at any point during his career.
"You know, just based on my background, where I grew up, the son of a mother who integrated a high school with a handful of other black students back in 1965 in Huntsville, Alabama. And I’ve been kind of a pioneer everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve either been the first or the only," Gragg said.
Gragg says the opportunity took on new importance when Minneapolis police killed George Floyd days after he applied for the job, leading to a new awareness of social justice issues nationwide. Gragg said he wants to help ensure talks that happened at TU happen at all universities.
"We’ve been very, very connected to our student-athletes and listening very intently to what they have to say, whether it’s grievances — and it hasn’t always been grievances, they’ve also patted us on the back sometimes — but we’ve had conversations that have never happened in my 20-plus years of being an administrator and when I was a student-athlete," Gragg said.
Gragg guided TU through its move from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference. No immediate successor has been named.
Note: KWGS is licensed to TU.