By The Associated Press on January 19, 2024.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – Sporting Kansas City has agreed to part ways with sporting director Gavin Wilkinson after only eight days, citing an “impassioned response from our fans” regarding the controversial hire, the team announced Friday.
Wilkinson, the former president and general manager of the NWSL’s Portland Thorns, was fired by the team in 2022 after separate investigations into the handling of coach misconduct. Wilkinson’s name surfaced in the coverup of sexual harassment allegations against former Thorns coach Paul Riley.
Michael Illig, the principal owner of Sporting KC, said the decision “demonstrates our longstanding, unequivocal respect for” the voices of fans, community supporters, partners and stakeholders of the team.
An independent investigation led by former Attorney General Sally Yates outlined misconduct while Wilkinson was the Thorns’ GM. He was responsible for the hiring of Riley, who was among five NWSL coaches who were dismissed or resigned amid claims of misconduct in 2021.
The Thorns also were fined $1 million as part of the fallout from the investigation.
Sporting KC had been looking to add to its front office to ease the burden on Vermes, who has served as the club’s manager since 2009 and its sporting director the past four years. Vermes, the longest-tenured coach in MLS history, has led the club to the 2013 MLS Cup along with three U.S. Open Cups and 11 playoff appearances since the 2011 season.
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