Portland Thorns FC head coach Rhian Wilkinson to resign

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 7:08 AM PST
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PORTLAND, Ore. (KPTV) - Rhian Wilkinson will resign as head coach of the Portland Thorns FC this month, according to the club.

Wilkinson was announced as head coach ahead of the 2022 season on Nov. 29, 2021.

According to a statement from Wilkinson posted to Twitter, a player and Wilkinson formed a friendship that turned into “more complex emotions.” The unnamed player shared her feelings with the head coach, and Wilkinson said she reciprocated.

Wilkinson said in a statement that “while this was a human moment, it went no further than this expression of feelings for one another.” Wilkinson went on to say that she and the player stopped spending time outside of training together in an effort to follow NWSL and NWSLPA processes to protect player safety and to be as transparent as possible.

Wilkinson followed internal processes by self-reporting a matter to leadership, who then elevated it to the NWSL. A joint investigation was then conducted in partnership with the NWSLPA.

The investigation concluded following the end of the 2022 season, at which point Wilkinson was cleared of any wrongdoing.

“The Portland Thorns and Coach Wilkinson followed all League processes and policies and fully cooperated with this investigation,” said NWSL Commissioner Jessica Berman. “The joint investigative team conducted a thorough investigation that resulted in a finding of no violation of League policies.”

Wilkinson said she informed all her staff but the players found out before she could tell them herself. She said the result is the players asked for her resignation and she agreed.

“I would like to thank the Portland Thorns organization, the fans, the staff and most importantly the players for a remarkable year,” said Rhian Wilkinson. “During my time in Portland I have met some incredible people and been fortunate enough to coach some of the best players in the game.”

During her one season with Portland, the club posted a record of 10-3-9 and won the club’s league-best third NWSL Championship.

The news of Wilkinson’s resignation comes one day after Merritt Paulson announced he would be selling the Portland Thorns FC, but keeping ownership of the Portland Timbers.

SEE ALSO: Merritt Paulson to sell the Portland Thorns FC