Northwestern athletic director Mike Polisky announced Wednesday evening via press release that he has resigned from his new position and will leave Northwestern altogether after serving as Deputy Director of Athletics for External Affairs for a decade.
Shannon Ryan of the Chicago Tribune first broke the news.
Mike Polisky resigned as Northwestern athletic director, according to athletic spokesman.— Shannon Ryan (@sryantribune) May 12, 2021
After Polisky was named Jim Phillips’ replacement 10 days ago, a number of students, faculty and alumni responded in outrage. Polisky, in addition to the University, was one of four defendants named in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a Northwestern cheerleader in December, who alleged that he accused her of fabricating evidence and did not fulfil his duty as a mandated reporter under the school’s Title IX policy.
Last Friday, faculty organized a protest at President Morton Schapiro’s house, demanding that the school reconsider their decision and remove Polisky from his post. Wednesday morning, a number of alumni, faculty and donors responded with a letter to the Board of Trustees backing Polisky.
A long list of the prestigious athletes, alumni and executives at Northwestern have written a letter to the Board of Trustees in support of their new athletic director Mike Polisky.— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 12, 2021
Disclosure: I have signed the letter. pic.twitter.com/0bJmZcheGj
Just hours later, Polisky and the Northwestern athletic department officially announced his resignation.
“Today, I informed President Schapiro of my decision to step down as Northwestern’s Director of Athletics and leave Northwestern University,” he wrote in a press release. “Over the last 10 days, it has become clear to me that the current challenges will not allow me to effectively lead our department, especially during these unsettling times in college athletics. My love and respect for Northwestern and for our student-athletes, coaches and staff, is greater than my own desire to lead the department. I do not want to be a distraction to our incredible men and women as they pursue a collective goal – to help our student-athletes become the best they can be. While my family and I are disappointed, I move forward knowing this is the right decision.”
Polisky or Schapiro never addressed the media over the course of the 10 days. During his short time as athletic director, Polisky’s one notable decision was the hiring of new Northwestern men’s soccer coach Russell Payne.
Schapiro announced via press release that he has selected someone from outside the athletic department to lead on an interim basis. Linguistics professor Robert Gundlach, the faculty athletics representative to the NCAA and Big Ten, will hold the interim position as he did in 2008 during another transition period for the department. In addition to his role as a professor, Gundlach has served on numerous NCAA committees.
There is no clear deadline or timetable set for when the next athletic director will be announced, with the official release only mentioning that information on the selection process will be shared in the coming months.