FAYETTEVILLE - As of Thursday afternoon, Derrick Gragg, the University of Tulsa Athletic Director and former Arkansas Razorbacks senior athletic director, appeared the most likely to be hired as the Razorbacks’ new athletic director, sources and various websites reported.
However there has been zero confirmation from the UA that Gragg imminently will be hired or that he has interviewed face to face with UA Chancellor Joe Steinmetz or the 7-member advisory committee assisting Steinzmentz in the athletic director search as is the Korn Ferry search firm.
The UA is not expected to name its new athletic director until next week.
After nine years, the University of Arkansas on Nov. 15 fired Athletic Director Jeff Long with Senior Associate Athletic Director Julie Cromer Peoples serving as interim athletic director and overseeing the new search firm assisted head football coaching search upon the Nov. 24 firing of 5-year Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema.
Joe Steinmetz, chancellor of the UA’s Fayetteville campus, is conducting the search for a new athletic director with the assistance of a search firm and a 7-member advisory committee of UA faculty, a Razorback Foundation Board members, the Razorbacks’ head women’s track coach Lance Harter and former Razorbacks quarterback Bill Montgomery and former NCAA Women’s golf champion and longtime LPGA great Stacy Lewis.
Gragg has been speculated by the website Arkansas 247 as the leading candidate but the UA has confirmed no reports of an imminent hiring.
A 1992 graduate of (bachelor of science of human development) and former wide receiver at Vanderbilt (1988-91), Gragg worked as an administrator on athletic staffs at Vanderbilt, Missouri, and Michigan, and completed a master’s degree in sports administration at Wayne State University, before joining the Razorbacks administrative staff under Athletic Director Frank Broyles in 2000.
Broyles promoted Gragg to senior associate athletic director in 2003. Gragg continued at Arkansas, while earning a UA Ph.D in higher education administration, until 2006 when he became the athletic director at Eastern Michigan.
Gragg was Eastern Michigan’s AD for seven years until becoming Tulsa’s athletic director with an additional vice president’s title in 2013.
At his regular Thursday press conference advancing the Razorbacks’ men’s basketball game with the Houston Cougars Saturday night at Houston, Mike Anderson, Arkansas’ head coach since 2011-2012 and a University of Tulsa grad before assisting Nolan Richardson at Arkansas from 1985-2002, was asked about his impressions of Gragg during their overlapping Arkansas tenure.
“He's a good guy, good person,” Anderson said. “He's followed my career and we've followed his. Of course, he's the AD over at my alma mater.”
Arkansas’ head football coaching search is believed to be centered on Auburn Coach Gus Malzahn, the Fort Smith native and former Arkansas 3-times state champion high school and 2006 Razorbacks offensive coordinator, Memphis Coach Mike Norvell, Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Vendables, the former Oklahoma Sooners defensive coordinator, and SMU Coach Chad Morris.