Sporting Kansas City has agreed to part ways with athletic director Gavin Wilkinson after just eight days, citing the “enthusiastic response from fans” over his controversial hiring, the team announced Friday.
Wilkinson, the former president and general manager of the NWSL's Portland Thorns, was fired by the team in 2022 following a separate investigation into his handling of coaching misconduct. Wilkinson's name came up in the cover-up of sexual harassment allegations against former Thorns coach Paul Riley.
Sporting KC principal owner Michael Illig said the decision was a “longstanding and unequivocal sign of respect” for the voices of fans, community supporters, partners and team stakeholders.
An independent investigation led by former US Attorney General Sally Yates outlined misconduct by Wilkinson while he was GM of the Thorns. He was responsible for the hiring of Riley, who was one of five NWSL coaches fired or resigned in 2021 following allegations of misconduct.
The Thornes were also fined $1 million as a result of the investigation.
Sporting KC had been looking to add front office staff to ease the burden on Vermes, who has been the club's manager since 2009 and sporting director for the past four years. Vermes, the longest-serving manager in MLS history, led the club to three U.S. Open Cup wins and 11 playoff appearances since the 2011 season, as well as the 2013 MLS Cup championship.