Just nine days after Mike Polisky was promoted as Northwestern's new athletic director, Polisky resigned from his post following significant criticism and a community-wide protest organized by faculty members.
"My love and respect for Northwestern and for our student-athletes, coaches and staff, is greater than my own desire to lead the department," Polisky said in a statement. "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 was one of four defendants named in a federal sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a member of the cheerleading team. The individual alleges he improperly addressed anti-Black racism and mishandled sexual misconduct complaints.
The Daily Northwestern highlighted in February numerous complaints against Northwestern concerning racial discrimination within the cheerleading program.
However, multiple notable current students, student-athletes, alumni and donors signed a petition that supported Polisky keeping his job “until due process has run its course."
That didn't outweigh the members of the Northwestern and Evanston communities that spoke out against Polisky. Over 200 Northwestern faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members marched on Friday in protest of his appointment. Evanston Mayor-elect Daniel Biss even attended the protest.
Polisky will be replaced in the interim by Robert Gundlach, who is a professor in the linguistics department at Northwestern. Gundlach has previously served as Northwestern's Faculty Athletics Representative to the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference.
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