Mike Polisky resigned his position as Northwestern University athletic director Wednesday, only nine days after being promoted from deputy AD for external affairs.
The decision came in the face of protest by faculty, students and others who cited Polisky's status as a defendant in an ongoing sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the university by a former cheerleader who claims Polisky dismissed her claims and accused her of fabricating evidence, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“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.”
Others will no doubt feel disappointment, as well. The Tribune reported Wednesday that more than 140 individuals with ties to Northwestern — including former and current athletes, athletics staff, donors and alumni — signed a letter to university president Morton Shapiro, voicing their support for Poliski.
“We are proud for Mike Polisky to be our Director of Athletics and we respectfully urge the Board of Trustees to allow the legal process to play out — which we are confident will completely vindicate Mike,” the letter says.
Several current coaches had also gone public with their support for Polisky.
But that collective backing was outmatched by Polisky's detractors, nearly 400 of whom marched on university president Morton Schapiro's home Friday.
Schapiro said in a statement that Northwestern’s faculty athletic representative Robert Gundlach will run the department on an interim basis. Schapiro said in the statement that in “the coming months” he will share information about choosing the next athletic director.