President Schapiro defends appointment of Mike Polisky to athletic director in message to community

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Daily file photo by Joshua Hoffman

President Schapiro maintained that after interviewing seven of the candidates, he felt certain Polisky was the most ideal person to lead the department.

Yunkyo Kim, Campus Editor

Following the Northwestern community’s requests for explanation, University President Morton Schapiro issued a Thursday statement defending Mike Polisky’s hire as the new athletic director.

On Monday, the University announced it appointed Polisky, deputy athletic director for external affairs, to oversee the athletic department. Within days, six faculty members co-signed an open letter calling for an independent investigation into the appointment. On Thursday, former cheerleader Erika Carter (SESP ’18) published a petition — which has since received over 550 signatures — to reconsider the decision.

Schapiro acknowledged the lawsuit by a member of the cheer team. In Weinberg senior Hayden Richardson’s federal lawsuit against the University and four staff members, Polisky was named a defendant. In it, she claimed Polisky accused her of fabricating evidence about sexual harassment. The University filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, the release stated. 

“Having reviewed the complaint, Northwestern denies that it or any of its current employees violated any laws, including Title IX,” Schapiro wrote. 

Schapiro maintained that after interviewing seven of the candidates, he felt certain Polisky was the most ideal person to lead the department.

“At the conclusion, I felt certain that (Polisky) was the best person to lead our Department of Athletics and Recreation forward, based on his body of work at Northwestern and his understanding of the University community, its culture and its values,” Schapiro wrote.

The University also engaged an independent investigator to examine any new or existing concerns of “discrimination, harassment or retaliation,” the release stated. Schapiro wrote the initial inquiry portion of the investigation concluded there is “no information to suggest” Polisky violated policy. 

Polisky’s background, the release stated, was also examined through interviews by a former Federal Bureau of Investigation supervisory special agent and a review by a former federal judge. Schapiro wrote that their findings gave him “further confidence” to hire him as athletic director. 

“Please know that the safety and well-being of the Northwestern community is our top priority, and (Polisky) and his Athletics and Recreation leadership team are deeply committed to the same,” Schapiro wrote in the release.

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