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Big Ten Daily: Izzo Adds Former Players to Michigan State Staff

Michigan State basketball announces staff changes, conference programs were knocked out of the NCAA baseball tournament and Northwestern hires a new athletic director. Here's the latest from around the Big Ten.

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State basketball coach Tom Izzo announced several changes to his staff on Monday, which includes the addition of two former players.

Doug Wojcik became the program's assistant coach and replaced Dane Fife, who left for an assistant coaching position at Indiana. Wojcik was an assistant coach under Izzo from 2003-05 before returning to East Lansing in 2018 and spending the last three years as the team's recruiting coordinator.

"Doug has been a vital part of our success over the last three years since he returned to East Lansing," Izzo said in a release. "As our director of recruiting, he was the lead for us with an incoming recruiting class that is among the top in the nation. I've known Doug for more than 20 years and he's one of the best basketball minds I know. It was natural for him to move into our assistant coaching position when that opened. He's got tremendous experience, is a man of incredible character and has a work ethic that is unmatched."

Former Michigan State basketball players are also joining the staff. Former All-Big Ten guard Mark Montgomery will step into the recruiting coordinator role. He served as an assistant coach from 2001-11.

Austin Thornton, who played in 2007-12 under Izzo, joins Michigan State as video coordinator. Also, Matt McQuaid — the captain of the program's 2019 Final Four team — was hired as the assistant director of basketball operations. He led the Spartans to Big Ten titles in 2018 and 2019.

McQuaid will work under Garrett Briningstool, who is now the Director of Operations & Chief of Staff after two seasons as an executive assistant to Izzo.

The Final addition to the staff is Julian Stall, who joins the team as the director of creative video. He spent the last four years as part of the Michigan State Athletics Spartan Vision Team.

"I'm very excited to make the announcement for our staff for next season," Izzo said. "This is the first time we've had some change in our staff in a while, but I think we have some great experience and it means even more when former players want to return to campus to be a part of building our future.

"Dwayne Stephens is one of our mainstays and will remain as our associate head coach while overseeing the entire staff and bringing together a group I am really excited to work with as we start the new season."

For more from our Sports Illustrated Michigan State website, CLICK HERE

Big Ten knocked out of NCAA baseball

After four days of NCAA regional baseball, all three Big Ten programs that made the postseason tournament have been eliminated.

Nebraska baseball brought the fight to Fayetteville this weekend, forcing a winner-take-all matchup with Arkansas on Monday. The two teams faced off on Saturday and Sunday, with each taking one win in the double-elimination bracket.

But Arkansas proved why many consider it the best team in the nation while facing elimination. Despite starting with a 2-0 lead, Nebraska faltered on the mound and at the plate.

The Cornhuskers registered just four hits in the game and never brought home another run as the Razorbacks rallied. Arkansas registered six hits on a strong bullpen, tying the game in the sixth inning.

In the end, it was a four-run eighth inning that sealed the game for Arkansas and sent Nebraska home packing. The Razorbacks were named regional champions after a 6-2 win.

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Maryland also fell 9-6 at the hands of East Carolina on Sunday. The Terrapins found themselves constantly one step behind the Pirates.

East Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead and proceeded to score in five runs in the first four innings. Despite Maryland responding with two runs of its own during that span and another pair in the fifth inning, the Big Ten program never held a lead.

The Pirates exploded for three runs at the top of the eighth inning to take an 8-4 lead. The Terrapins clawed back with two runs of their own in the frame but faltered in the ninth.

East Carolina added another run for good measure, good for a 9-6 lead before Maryland failed to score at the end of the game. The conference program earned two wins in the postseason before being eliminated.

Michigan exited the NCAA Tournament after two straight losses. The team was eliminated following an 8-2 loss to Central Michigan on Saturday.

The Wolverines recorded nine hits, but left seven players on base and only brought a runner home in the first and final frames. The Chippewas went on to score eight straight runs to put the game out of reach.

For NCAA Tournament scores and schedule, CLICK HERE

Northwestern Hires AD a 2nd time

Northwestern hired Derrick Gragg as the team's next athletic director on Monday. He previously served as the NCAA’s senior vice president for inclusion, education and community engagement.

He will begin his new role on July 1. 

“I am thrilled and humbled to join the Northwestern University family at this pivotal moment in college athletics,” Gragg said in a release. “My career has been shaped by an unwavering belief in the potential of student-athletes to excel in all areas. These young people need more support than ever in the midst of challenging, changing and exciting times. I look forward to joining an incredible roster of coaches and staff in Evanston on this collaborative mission to help our Wildcats achieve at the highest level as students, as athletes and as people.”

Throughout his career in college athletics, Gragg has worked as an athletic director, college sports administrator, and diversity and inclusion leader. He prioritized representing the underrepresented and providing a voice and allyship to people of color, women and the LGBTQ community.

Gragg was a former football letter-winner at Vanderbilt and earned his master’s degree in sports administration from Wayne State University. He also earned a doctorate in higher education administration from the University of Arkansas.

In 2006, Gragg became the athletic director at Eastern Michigan. He also served as the Tulsa athletic director in 2013.

“It was essential for us to find the right leader for the next chapter at Northwestern — someone who can build both academic and athletic excellence at a time of rapid change in the intercollegiate sports landscape, and also someone who can create the best possible environment for students, staff and coaches," Northwestern President Morty Schapiro said. "After talking extensively with Derrick, it was clear that he was the ideal person for the job.”

To watch Gragg's introductory press conference, CLICK HERE 

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