Just nine days after his hiring, Mike Polisky stepped away from the role of Northwestern athletic director, announcing his resignation on Wednesday. Criticism and protest followed his initial hiring.
"Last week, when I announced Mike Polisky as the next Vice President for Athletics & Recreation at Northwestern, I acknowledged his important role in helping transform the department into a model for excellence both on the playing field and in the classroom," Northwestern President Morton Schapiro said in a statement.
"Today, Mike told me he is stepping down from his new role and leaving Northwestern," he said. "I understand and respect his decision. I truly appreciate all Mike has done for the University."
Polisky was promoted from his role as the deputy athletic director on May 3, but members of the Northwestern faculty voiced against Schapiro’s decision. Polisky was one of four defendants in an ongoing federal lawsuit of sexual harassment filed by a former member of the cheerleading team.
The individual alleges the improper handling of racial discrimination and sexual harassment complaints. Polisky allegedly dismissed these concerns.
"Today, I informed President Schapiro of my decision to step down as Northwestern's Director of Athletics and leave Northwestern University," Polisky said in a statement. "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."
Despite this decision, several Northwestern students, alumni and donors have come together to sign a petition supporting Polisky, wishing he remains in his position until the due process runs its course.
Polisky was set to replace longtime athletic director Jim Phillips, who left the position to become the commissioner of the Atlantic Coast Conference. Phillips spent more than a decade at Northwestern.