Portland Thorns and Timbers president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson and president of business Mike Golub have been fired, the organization announced in a press release Wednesday.
This follows Tuesday’s announcement that Thorns owner Merritt Paulson would be stepping away from club operations until the conclusion of the NWSL and NWSL Players Association’s joint investigation.
“Given the Thorns are about to enter the NWSL Playoffs, I have told the NWSL that I will be removing myself effective today from all Thorns-related decision making until the NWSL/NWSLPA Joint Investigation, which we are fully cooperating with, is released,” Paulson said in the release.
General counsel Heather Davis, named interim president for both the Timbers and the Thorns, will step into the role immediately.
Portland’s personnel changes come after Sally Yates’ U.S. Soccer report on abuse in the NWSL, released on Monday, stated that the Thorns had not fully cooperated with the investigation.
Paulson and Thorns leadership have come under widespread criticism for their role in the abuse scandal involving former NWSL coach Paul Riley. The Thorns fired Riley from his position as head coach in 2015 after an internal investigation into players’ accusations of sexual misconduct against him, but the club did not provide a reason for his exit at the time. When another NWSL team expressed interest in hiring Riley, Wilkinson said he felt Riley “was put in a bad position by the player” and he “would hire him in a heartbeat,” per the U.S. Soccer report.
Golub was found to have made an inappropriate sexual remark to current U.S. Soccer president Cindy Parlow Cone when she was coach of the Thorns in 2013.
Thorns supporters groups released a joint statement on Tuesday calling for Wilkinson and Golub to be fired, and for Paulson to sell the Thorns and Timbers.