When the news broke on May 2 that Northwestern was naming Mike Polisky as its 22nd Athletic Director, a wave of criticism arose from students and faculty alike. They argued that Polisky – who in February was named a defendant in a sexual harassment case filed by former cheerleader Hayden Richardson – was the symbol of a true “boys’ club” at Northwestern, representing a disregard for students’ safety and only caring about the bottom line. University President Morton Schapiro, in a statement released May 7, reaffirmed his decision, saying “the safety and well-being of the Northwestern community is our top priority, and Mike and his Athletics and Recreation leadership team are deeply committed to the same.”
This isn’t the first time, however, that Northwestern Athletics has been in the spotlight for its handling of student athletes. Since Polisky’s hiring in 2010, there have been several notable examples of media attention surrounding the department for controversies, internal conflicts and ongoing power struggles between the students and higher administration. This timeline, which begins with the hiring of Polisky, aims to summarize and share some of these examples, along with some other notable events within the program, in order to better understand his time with Northwestern.