Sporting Kansas City Parts Ways with Controversial Hire Gavin Wilkinson Following Backlash from Fans

Kansas City, Missouri – The recent hiring of Gavin Wilkinson as the sporting director of Sporting Kansas City has been met with widespread criticism and fan backlash. On Friday, the club’s principal owner, Michael Illig, announced that Wilkinson and the club had mutually agreed to part ways. Wilkinson’s checkered past as the general manager and president of the Portland Timbers and Thorns prompted fans to express their dissent, leading some to even cancel their season tickets.

The decision to release Wilkinson was made in response to the passionate outcry of the club’s fans, community, and partners. Illig emphasized the club’s commitment to honoring and protecting relationships, which he believes is crucial to building a strong and united Sporting family. The search for a new sporting director was conducted diligently and in line with the principles and standards that the club holds dear.

Wilkinson’s tenure with the Portland clubs was marred by controversies related to player and coach misconduct. Despite being aware of sexual coercion allegations made by multiple Thorns players, Wilkinson recommended former Thorns coach Paul Riley for a position with the Western New York Flash. Additionally, the Timbers organization failed to report a domestic violence incident involving winger Andy Polo. Although Wilkinson initially remained in his role following an MLS-commissioned investigation, he was ultimately dismissed after the release of the Sally Yates report.

During a town hall event in April 2022, Wilkinson addressed concerns about a perceived cover-up by Portland’s hierarchy. He acknowledged the allegations but stressed the importance of considering the facts before passing judgment. Wilkinson conceded that there had been an error in judgment on his part and expressed a willingness to learn from his mistakes.

The Ladies of SKC, a group dedicated to growing the game and supporting the SKC family, emerged as some of the loudest voices of opposition to Wilkinson’s hiring. They described the appointment as “a slap in the face” and expressed disappointment in a club they had supported wholeheartedly. Members of the group expressed concerns about Wilkinson’s failure to protect players and his lack of accountability.

Sporting Kansas City declined to make any further comments beyond Illig’s statement. The club is now expected to seek a replacement for the position of sporting director. The situation between Wilkinson and the club has also prompted an inquiry by Major League Soccer, though the league’s spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

As Sporting Kansas City moves forward from the controversy surrounding Gavin Wilkinson, the club is faced with the task of rebuilding trust with its fan base. The next hiring decision for the backroom sporting staff will undoubtedly be a crucial one in determining the club’s path forward.