Duke’s Mike Cragg withdraws name from Rice athletic director search

lkeeley@newsobserver.comSeptember 2, 2013 

Duke’s deputy director of athletics Mike Cragg, who oversees basketball and facilities upgrades, has withdrawn his name from Rice’s search for a new athletics director, he said Monday. Cragg has been at Duke since 1987, rising through the athletic department’s ranks over the years.

“We’ve decided to stay at Duke,” said Cragg, who made the decision with his wife, Paige. “I feel like we have a lot more to accomplish and want be a part of the future under Kevin White so that we can finish all the things we’re trying to build.”

Cragg fills several critical roles for Duke. He manages the Duke Basketball Legacy Fund, which completely finances the men’s basketball team, covering scholarships, salaries and the operational budget through an endowment of $25 million. Cragg has been responsible for helping raise more than $65 million through the fund, which was started in January 2000. Each of the 35 active members in the fund has contributed a minimum of $1 million.

In addition to his fundraising responsibilities, Cragg is in charge of facilities and planning for athletics. The university is in the midst of a $3.25 billion capital campaign, Duke Forward, with $250 million going to the athletics department for operations, endowments and facilities upgrades. Athletics has raised $144 million so far, and construction has begun on new lacrosse and soccer practice fields. Major renovations to Wallace Wade Stadium will begin at the conclusion of the football regular season.

Cragg is also the school’s day-to-day contact with Nike. Prior to joining the senior administration, Cragg was Duke’s sports information director for 10 years, beginning in 1990. He came to Duke after graduating from Washington in 1986.

When White was hired as Duke’s athletics director in 2008, Cragg was the only internal candidate considered for the position.

Cragg was serious about the Rice vacancy, making two trips to Houston in the past two weeks, his most recent interview coming last Tuesday and Wednesday. It’s the closest he has ever come to leaving Duke, he said.

“I’ve not looked at very many places, but this was a great opportunity at a school with great academics and great student-athletes, and everything I found there absolutely verified that,” he said.

Had Cragg left, he would have been the second senior administrator to leave Duke in as many months. In August, Stan Wilcox left to become the athletics director at Florida State.

Keeley: 919-829-4556; Twitter: @laurakeeley

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