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NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird resigns amid league turmoil

(Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)

NWSL commissioner Lisa Baird has resigned from her post, with the league confirming Friday night that it had accepted her resignation. General counsel Lisa Levine is also out, as reported by The Athletic.

The move comes one day after The Athletic detailed allegations of sexual coercion and emotional abuse by former North Carolina Courage coach Paul Riley. Riley was fired by the Courage on Thursday. He is the fourth NWSL coach this season to be ousted under allegations of abuse.

On Friday, the league announced that this weekend’s slate of games would not be played in recognition of the trauma many players are feeling in the wake of The Athletic’s report. In the announcement, Baird took “full responsibility” for her role in this tumultuous season.

“This week, and much of this season, has been incredibly traumatic for our players and staff, and I take full responsibility for the role I have played. I am so sorry for the pain so many are feeling,” Baird said.

Many players criticized the NWSL’s response following the article’s release on Thursday, with Alex Morgan saying the league had been made aware of Riley’s conduct on multiple occasions.

“The league was informed of these allegations multiple times and refused multiple times to investigate the allegations,” Morgan wrote. “The league must accept responsibility for a process that failed to protect its own players from this abuse.”

“Never once during this whole time was the right person protected,” OL Reign and USWNT star Megan Rapinoe said in a tweet.

It is unclear who will take over Baird’s role in the interim. Baird joined the league as commissioner in February of 2020.