Thorns, Timbers fire execs in wake of abuse report

Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

The Portland Timbers and Portland Thorns FC fired president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson and president of business Mike Golub on Wednesday.

Their dismissals came one day after Thorns owner Merritt Paulson announced he was stepping away from team operations following a report this week on NWSL players claiming sexual abuse by coaches and staff around the league.

Claims of sexual harassment were made last year against former Thorns coach Paul Riley, who coached the team from 2014-15.

Monday’s report, from an independent investigation led by former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates, suggested that the Thorns were made aware of the allegations but did not prevent Riley from getting re-hired by another NWSL club.

“Yesterday’s Yates report unveiling was the darkest day I have experienced, and I know the same is true for everyone else who loves our team and our league,” Paulson said in a statement Tuesday.

“I would imagine that it was even harder and darker for those whose stories were shared publicly. … I cannot apologize enough for our role in a gross systemic failure to protect player safety and the missteps we made in 2015. I am truly sorry.”

General counsel Heather Davis was named interim president of Peregrine Sports on Wednesday and she’ll oversee business operations for both the MLS and NWSL clubs.

Ned Grabavoy will stay on as technical director and lead the Timbers’ soccer operations. Karina LeBlanc continues as the Thorns GM and leads their soccer operations.

–Field Level Media

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