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Mike Polisky steps down as athletic director

Mike Polisky has stepped down from his role as Northwestern University’s Combe Family Vice President for Athletics & Recreation, Polisky informed President Morton Schapiro today.

In a letter to the Northwestern University Athletics & Recreation (NUDAR) staff and students, Polisky said that in the 10 days since he was appointed athletic director, it became clear he would not be able to lead effectively in the current environment.

“My love and respect for Northwestern and for our student-athletes, coaches and staff are greater than my own desire to lead the department. I do not want to be a distraction to our incredible men and women as they pursue the collective goal of helping our student-athletes become the best they can be,” Polisky said. “While my family and I are disappointed, I move forward knowing this is the right decision.”

According to President Schapiro, Polisky’s important role in helping transform NUDAR into a model of excellence — both on the playing field and in the classroom — was a major contributing factor to appointing him on May 3.

“Today, Mike told me he is stepping down from his new role and leaving Northwestern,” President Schapiro said. “I understand and respect his decision. I truly appreciate all Mike has done for the University.”

Read statements by Mike Polisky and President Morton Schapiro.

President Schapiro named Northwestern linguistics professor Robert Gundlach as interim athletic director until a new, permanent athletic director is named.

“I have selected someone outside of the Department of Athletics & Recreation to lead it on an interim basis,” he said. “I am grateful that Professor Robert Gundlach has agreed to do so, just as he did in 2008 during another time of transition.”

Professor Gundlach has been Northwestern's faculty athletics representative to the NCAA and the Big Ten Conference. He also has served on numerous NCAA committees and working. 

Polisky has served as Northwestern’s deputy director of athletics for external affairs since 2010.

“I am grateful to President Schapiro for the opportunity to serve, and I wish Northwestern the very best in the future. I will always cheer on the Wildcats!” he said.

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