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Red Stars fire GM for failure to inform club of suspended coach’s new job

(Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Chicago Red Stars have fired general manager Michelle Lomnicki for neglecting to inform the team of a suspended NWSL coach’s employment by a local youth club.

Lomnicki knew of the Harrington’s employment at a Chicago youth soccer club as director of coaching, The Athletic reported Friday.

Harrington, who worked as an assistant coach for the Red Stars from 2018-19 and as the head coach for the Utah Royals in 2020, is serving a two-year NWSL suspension for inappropriate conduct and sexual comments made to players. He was fired from his role with the youth club in April.

The Red Stars terminated Lomnicki just four months after her promotion to general manager in January.

“Yesterday the Board of the Chicago Red Stars ended Michelle Lomnicki’s employment immediately after learning about a lapse in judgment to not share important information with club leadership,” the team said in a statement.

According to a Red Stars source, the club did not know about Harrington’s role until they were contacted by The Athletic. The Red Stars felt the trust between the club and Lomnicki had been broken.

Lomnicki is connected to Chicago Empire FC, the club that employed Harrington, through her husband Wes Lomnicki, who is Empire FC’s sporting director.

The now-former Red Stars general manager also was listed as a female technical and performance consultant for Empire FC until early May. But in a statement to The Athletic, Lomnicki said that she had “ceased all youth contracting or club coaching as of January 2023,” when she was promoted to general manager of the Red Stars.

“My performance consultant role with Chicago Empire involved being a reference for girls in the club as they dealt with items such as competitive anxiety or college recruiting,” she continued. “I had no role in any hiring decisions for the club.”

Chicago Empire FC was the “first-ever youth affiliated club” of the Chicago Red Stars, according to an April 2019 announcement that has since been deleted from its website.

The affiliation had ended in November 2021, a spokesperson for the Red Stars told The Athletic. But the youth club’s website still had references to the Red Stars as of May 1, 2023.

Before Lomnicki became general manager for the Red Stars in January 2023, she worked as associate general manager since January 2022, and before that as the club’s director of youth camps and clinics since 2020. She also played for the Red Stars for their first three years in the NWSL, from 2013-15, and also in 2009 when the team was part of the WPS.