Thorns, Timbers dismiss two top officials in wake of damning report

Author: KGW Staff

PORTLAND, Ore. (KGW) — Portland Timbers and Thorns FC announced Wednesday that the club has fired president of soccer Gavin Wilkinson and president of business Mike Golub, effective immediately.
The news comes two days after the release of a report on an investigation into the Women’s National Soccer League by former acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates and a team of lawyers, which was centered in part on the Thorns after two former players accused former coach Paul Riley of sexual coercion.

Thorns owner Merritt Paulson announced Tuesday that he would step back from “all Thorns-related decision making,” turning over decision-making to Thorns general counsel Heather Davis. At the time, he also stated that Wilkinson and Golub would similarly step back.

Wednesday’s news release from the club said that Davis has been named interim president of Peregrine Sports, the parent company for both teams, and will oversee business operations for both the Timbers and Thorns.

Ned Grabavoy will stay on as technical director and lead Timbers soccer operations, the club said, and Thorns general manager Karina LeBlanc will continue leading Thorns soccer operations.

Paulson said Tuesday that he had promised NWSL that he would not make any further public statements about the matter until the investigation is concluded.

An NWSL spokesperson confirmed that the league had requested clubs refrain from making any statements that would “improperly influence or jeopardize the integrity” of the report or its findings. The investigation is expected to close by the end of the year, the league said.

Yates wrote in the Monday report that the Thorns interfered with investigators’ access to witnesses and attempted to impede her team’s use of documents, including a report from the team’s own 2015 investigation into Riley. The report also revealed inappropriate comments by Paulson, team president Mike Golub and former general manager Gavin Wilkinson.

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