A virtually half-million-dollar payout went to a central determine in a 2021 controversy involving Northwestern College’s athletics division — the identical division being roiled by a recent set of scandals.
Northwestern’s 2021 tax filings reveal that the previous Athletic Director Mike Polisky, who resigned amid controversy surrounding his involvement in a sexual-harassment lawsuit, obtained $476,190 in severance pay. Polisky, who had served because the longtime deputy athletic director, was chosen to guide Northwestern’s athletic division in Could 2021. He lasted 10 days.
College students and school fiercely protested his promotion, as a result of Polisky was considered one of 4 college workers accused of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed by Hayden Richardson, a former cheerleader. Based on the lawsuit, Polisky “disbelieved and shamed” Richardson, minimizing her considerations and accusing her of fabricating proof, which contributed to a delayed response to her Title IX grievance.
In his resignation assertion, Polisky mentioned he didn’t “need to be a distraction” to Northwestern’s athletes, including that the “challenges” surrounding his appointment wouldn’t permit him to successfully lead the division.
Polisky got here away with a complete of almost $849,000 within the 2021 fiscal yr, together with the $476,190 in severance pay and about $98,400 in base compensation, in addition to bonuses, retirement, and deferred compensation. After he left Northwestern, Polisky labored for a yr as the chief vice chairman of Intersport, a advertising firm. Makes an attempt to succeed in him via LinkedIn, which says he’s president of the Affiliation of Pickleball Professionals, have been unsuccessful. Northwestern didn’t reply to The Chronicle’s requests for remark.
The information of Polisky’s severance pay comes as Northwestern is beneath fireplace for 2 different scandals in its athletics division. Head Soccer Coach Pat Fitzgerald was let go on July 10 following an investigation into hazing within the soccer program. Three days later, the college fired Jim Foster, head coach of the baseball crew. Whereas the college didn’t initially clarify the reasoning behind Foster’s dismissal, the Chicago Tribune and 670 The Rating have reported that Foster allegedly engaged in bullying and abusive conduct.
Fitzgerald earned over $5.9 million in complete compensation within the 2021 fiscal yr, together with about $375,000 in bonus pay, in keeping with the tax filings. Foster’s compensation isn’t included within the data, since he was employed in June 2022.
A lawsuit mentioned cheerleaders have been “offered as intercourse objects’’ to highly effective donors at university-sponsored occasions.
An nameless former soccer participant filed a lawsuit on Tuesday that named Fitzgerald as a defendant, together with Michael H. Schill, the president; Morton O. Schapiro, the previous president; Athletic Director Derrick Gragg; and the board of trustees. The lawsuit says Fitzgerald and the opposite defendants dismissed considerations about sexual misconduct and racial discrimination, and it accuses the group of “systemic abuse” of athletes. At the least 15 former gamers, together with former soccer, baseball, and softball gamers, have obtained authorized illustration from Ben Crump, a civil-rights lawyer, in keeping with information studies.
In response to the hazing investigation, Schill introduced that the college elevated monitoring within the soccer crew’s locker room, established anti-hazing coaching, and created an internet reporting software for athletes to file complaints. Schill mentioned on Tuesday that the college would additionally rent an out of doors agency to “consider the sufficiency of our accountability mechanism” within the athletic division and its “skill to detect threats to the welfare of student-athletes.”
The dismissals of Fitzgerald and Foster felt all too acquainted for some Northwestern group members who’ve identified similarities between the college’s dealing with of the 2021 sexual-harassment lawsuit involving Polisky and the latest hazing allegations.
“The extra information we discovered concerning the soccer hazing, the extra we sensed a set of alarming parallels with what occurred in 2021,” mentioned Caitlin Fitz, an affiliate professor of historical past at Northwestern.
The lawsuit that named Polisky mentioned Northwestern didn’t sufficiently reply to Hayley Richardson’s Title IX grievance. Richardson’s lawsuit mentioned cheerleaders have been “offered as intercourse objects’’ to highly effective donors at university-sponsored occasions, the place she mentioned she was groped by drunken alumni and followers.
Northwestern filed a movement to dismiss a lot of the claims in Richardson’s lawsuit in Could 2021; the movement remains to be pending.
When Polisky was employed within the spring of 2021, greater than 200 campus-community members protested on the garden of then-president Schapiro, the college’s scholar newspaper The Every day Northwestern reported. Fitz and 5 different feminine college members wrote in an open letter that they have been “alarmed” and “embarrassed” by the choice to rent Polisky within the wake of the pending lawsuit towards him, including that the college supplied no proof that the costs towards Polisky lacked advantage.
Final week, Fitz and the identical 5 college members wrote one other open letter in a USA As we speak opinion piece. The group known as on the college to launch, with the consent of the victims, the total report of the hazing investigation of the soccer program; to arrange long-term oversight of the athletics division; and to halt the promotion of the college’s plans to rebuild its soccer stadium till the division fixes its inside points.
A separate letter signed by over 250 college members reiterated the identical calls for. “We have to get the prevailing home so as earlier than increasing it,” they wrote.
Dan Bauman contributed to this report.