New Athletic Director Receives Warm Welcome from University Community
St. John’s introduced Mike Cragg as the University’s seventh Athletic Director in program history at a press conference inside Carnesecca Arena on October 2. Mr. Cragg comes to St. John’s following a three-decade-long tenure at Duke University, where he oversaw operations and facilities for all 27 of the school’s athletic teams and helped the men’s basketball program solidify its reputation as one of the best in the nation.
“We are excited to welcome Mike Cragg to St. John's University,” said Conrado “Bobby” Gempesaw, Ph.D., President of St. John’s, in his opening remarks. “His vision for St. John’s Athletics, coupled with his tremendous experience and commitment to excellence, will undoubtedly benefit our student-athletes, as we collectively work to ensure their success on and off the field of play.” As part of his new leadership role at the University, Mr. Cragg will also serve on the President’s Advisory Council.
Reflecting on his decision to accept the new position, Mr. Cragg spoke about his family and their shared belief in caring for others. “For us, we wanted to be at a place that values student-athletes and has a mission of strong core values,” he said. “Coming here, we feel like it is very much family first, and a place where you can believe in and care for each other. We have cared for the community we have been a part of throughout our lives—and that is who we are going to be for St. John’s.” Mr. Cragg noted from the podium his intention to see Red Storm Athletics achieve further successes under his stewardship. “There is a great history at St. John’s and I want to be part of future championships here.”
In addition to his steadfast commitment to the success of student-athletes throughout his career, Mr. Cragg helped Duke raise more than $115 million through the creation of the Duke Basketball Legacy Fund in 2000. In his role leading Duke's facilities operations, Mr. Cragg was also responsible for overseeing more than $300 million in renovated and new construction at the school.
A number of distinguished guests were in attendance for the press conference, including Hall of Famer and former Head Men’s Basketball Coach, Lou Carnesecca ’50C, ’60GEd, ’00HON, and Athletic Director Emeritus, John W. “Jack” Kaiser ’49C, both of whom Mr. Cragg publicly thanked for their warm welcome to St. John's. The men's basketball team paused its midday practice to be present at the special event as Head Coach Chris Mullin and all of the players on the 2018–19 team came to hear Mr. Cragg’s remarks.
William L. Collins ’76C, ’12HON, Chairman of St. John's Board of Trustees, echoed the thoughts expressed by Dr. Gempesaw. “The Board is committed to the success of St. John’s athletic programs,” said Mr. Collins, adding, “and I believe Mike possesses a deep and varied skillset that will allow him to foster the strategic growth of the Department of Athletics moving forward.”
“St. John’s is a legendary place,” said Mr. Cragg. “Once you know its history—and I have seen it from a distance because I have been competing against it—you know it is special. But when you step foot on this campus, and you start to meet the people who love this place—not just like it, they love it—that is the environment I want to be in,” he said. “That is why I said it is an absolute dream for us to be here and get started. Without a doubt, I look forward to representing and humbly leading one of the iconic brands in all of college athletics—St. John’s.”