Weekend Plans With St. John's AD Mike Cragg
MIKE CRAGG is only five months into his new job as St. John’s AD, but make no mistake, he’s no stranger to the pressure of March Madness. Cragg became the leader of the Red Storm late in ‘18 after working in Duke’s athletic department for over 30 years. He has been on hand at MSG for his squad’s conference tournament this week, and things started off strong with a win over DePaul Wednesday night. However, St. John's suffered a tough loss against Marquette on Thursday and now Cragg, his coaches and players will be among the many teams hoping for good news come Selection Sunday. Cragg took a few minutes earlier this week to talk about his expectations for the weekend, how he’s adjusted to St. Johns and finding time to enjoy his new life away from the Carolinas.
COUNTDOWN TO TIPOFF: This is my first time through the Big East Tournament, so it’ll make for a new experience. But for us, MSG is one of our homes throughout the year, and we’re always excited to be here. Wednesday I got on-site after attending a few hospitality events. We had an IMG/Learfield event and an alumni donor event at two local pubs near the Garden. Then I visited with MSG Exec VP/Marquee Events & Operations JOEL FISHER, a good friend of mine, before watching the first game. Ahead of our Wednesday tip I checked in with everybody. I saw our coach CHRIS MULLIN, talked to our TV and radio people, offered some words of encouragement and then just got to my seat and watched the game. The noon games are the toughest, because there’s never the same vibe in the building. At Duke, I was used to being the school with a target on its back. Sold-out arenas and everyone going crazy. Other campuses have to make their own energy, you can’t wait for the crowd to get you excited. For me, the ideal slot is probably 7:00pm. You get a full warm-up, and the start of the evening crowd. The 9:30 tip is a little late, assuming it even starts then. They’re all long days, but it’s exciting and it’s what this time of year is all about. Plus, when it comes to the NCAA Tournament you never know when you’re going to play. You could play at noon or 10:15pm.
CONFERENCE INITIATIVES: Thursday morning we had a Big East ADs and presidents meeting and later we had a conference networking event for student-athletes interested in sports business. There will be more hospitality events throughout the weekend as well but hopefully I’m able to keep doing my pregame routines, assuming we keep advancing.
LONG-TERM PLANNING: The start of the basketball season was my first day on campus. The people at St. John’s have been so welcoming and supportive. There’s a lot of work to be done when it comes to facilities and infrastructure. We’ve started a master plan exercise to help provide a roadmap for the future. I can see where we have our deficiencies. We have to be competitive in every sport and strive for championships. That means we as an administration we need to provide the resources for our athletes to compete. We’re not there yet, but that’s okay. We knew that coming in.
IN THE MEANTIME: I’ve been running half-marathons for the last several years and I’ll get back into that in the spring. I love to watch soccer, I’m a big La Liga fan so I watch that throughout the year. Then it’s just enjoying time with my wife and our dogs. We’re empty-nesters with our girls out in California, so we’re on a new adventure these days living in Queens. After 31 years in the Carolinas we’re really looking forward to visiting all the parts of NYC that you don’t see as tourists.