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Wilkinson departs Sporting KC after backlash

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Gavin Wilkinson's time at Sporting Kansas City ended on Friday only days after his arrival, the club announced.

Backlash to the hiring of the former Portland Timbers and Thorns executive as sporting director was swift from the team's fan base.

Wilkinson was fired by the Timbers as president and general manager in the fall of 2022 after the results of Sally Yates' independent investigation into the team's handling of sexual misconduct claims by Thorns player Mana Shim against former coach Paul Riley. Wilkinson had departed that role with the Thorns in 2021.

During Wilkinson's introductory press conference with SKC last week, he denied the allegations detailed in the report that he backed Riley, but acknowledged he should have done more.

"We ran a diligent and exhaustive process to identify our new sporting director," team owner Michael Illig said in a statement. "It was grounded in the deeply-held principles and standards we have adhered to since the day we acquired the team. That said, the impassioned response from our fans reinforced to us a fundamental philosophy that has driven us since Day One: To honor and protect our valued relationships. It is in that spirit that we take this action today, reflective of our abiding appreciation for our unrivaled SKC fans and our Kansas City community."