Former National Women’s Soccer League commissioner Lisa Baird has resigned from her position on the U.S. Soccer board of directors, sources have told ESPN.
Baird resigned as commissioner of the league on Friday after a report in The Athletic that detailed allegations of sexual coercion and emotional abuse by former North Carolina Courage manager Paul Riley which covered more than a decade and multiple teams.
Especially damning for the NWSL leadership were revelations that on multiple occasions the league failed to act on Riley’s alleged actions, thus endangering players. Earlier this year, the league declined to act on an offer from Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim — two of the women who came forward in The Athletic article about Riley — to assist in investigating further instances of Riley abusing his position as manager.
USWNT forward Alex Morgan had tweeted screenshots of emails that showed Baird had ignored the request from a player to reopen an investigation into Riley.
NWSL general counsel Lisa Levine also resigned Friday from her position in the league.
The USSF board of directors consists of 14 elected members who represent various facets of soccer in the U.S., including the commissioners of the men’s and women’s leagues and they will nominate Baird’s replacement.
U.S. Soccer, FIFA and the NWSL have all launched investigations into the allegations made by players against Riley and other deeper cultural issues in the league.
“Player safety and respect is the paramount responsibility of every person involved in this game. That is true across every age, competition and ability level,” U.S. Soccer president Cindy Cone, who is also on the board of directors, said.
“We owe it to each athlete, each fan and the entire soccer community to take every meaningful action in our power to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. We hope to work together with all parties in this important effort.”
ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle contributed to this report.