Northwestern is reassigning athletic director Derrick Gragg to a new position that will oversee the athletic department's strategy in the ever-shifting collegiate landscape, the university announced Thursday. Northwestern is actively searching for a new athletic director to replace Gragg. 

As the Vice President for Athletic Strategy, Gragg will advise university president Michael Shill and his successor to the athletic director spot in matters regarding name, image and likeness reform, student-athlete revenue sharing and other changes that have morphed the face of collegiate athletics. 

"Derrick has been an asset to Northwestern over the last few years, and our athletics department has achieved some remarkable accomplishments under his leadership, both on and off the fields of competition," Schill said in a statement. "In addition, after an investigation found hazing in our football program, Derrick helped us recover and set the stage for a new era of excellence."

As Schill's statement indicates, Gragg was athletic director when former Northwestern football coach Pat Fitzgerald was fired after details surfaced recounting graphic hazing incidents within the program. Fitzgerald was initially suspended without pay for two weeks, pending the results of a university investigation. 

Schill owned sole responsibility for the decision to suspend and ultimately fire Fitzgerald; the hazing incidents occurred before Gragg began his role as athletic director in June 2021. Fitzgerald's attorneys announced in October 2023 that Fitzgerald sought $130 million in a wrongful termination lawsuit against the university. 

On July 13, 2023 -- two days after Fitzgerald's firing -- Northwestern terminated baseball coach Jim Foster after a university investigation evealed bullying and a "toxic environment" within the program. Gragg was largely absent from the media and failed to hold a news conference after both incidents. 

Northwestern football did post a 8-5 record under interim coach David Braun, whom Gragg officially hired as Fitzgerald's full-time successor after the 2023 regular season. Braun was named Big Ten Coach of the Year and became the first Northwestern coach to win a bowl game in his first season after downing Utah in the Las Vegas Bowl.