Former Colorado Rapids managing director, NWSL commissioner Jeff Plush resigns from USA Curling in fallout from abuse investigation – The Denver Post


On Friday evening, USA Curling announced that CEO Jeff Plush resigned amid mounting pressure in the wake of an investigation which revealed he failed to act on allegations of sexual abuse and coercion while he was commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League.

Plush had been CEO of USA Curling since February 2020. USA Curling confirmed it would launch a full review of its bylaws and policies, and confirmed Dean Gemmell as its interim CEO.

Plush was once managing director and vice president of the Colorado Rapids from 2006-2011. He also was tasked with spearheading Kroenke Sports and Entertainment’s (KSE) strategic business initiatives, which included his role in the launch of Altitude TV. Additionally, while he was in Denver, he was on the board of directors for the Metro Denver Sports Commission and the North Metro Chamber of Commerce.

In a statement Friday, the board of directors for USA Curling said it had accepted Plush’s resignation “unanimously.” The action came two weeks after the board said in a statement it would stand by Plush despite accusations he failed to act to protect players while commissioner of the NWSL.

The organization, based in Eagan, Minn., changed its stance after experiencing significant blowback within the curling community.

“In recent months, our relationship with this community has been damaged. We have not communicated effectively, and some believe we have not listened. There has been anger, frustration, and confusion,” the statement read. “We see you. We hear you. We care about you. Our priority is to rebuild trust. To start that process, today we lead with action.”

Plush came under fire after former Attorney General Sally Yates released an independent report Oct. 3, which detailed emotional abuse, sexual misconduct and a comprehensive failure to protect players inside the NWSL.

In the report, Plush was was made aware of complaints of sexual harassment and coercion made against then-Portland Thorns head coach Paul Riley in 2015. The Yates report stated that though Plush emailed U.S. Soccer officials about the allegations, he did not step in to intervene or prevent Riley from continuing to coach, jeopardizing players’ safety as a result. He declined numerous invitations to be interviewed as part of the report’s findings.

USA Curling’s board of directors repeatedly defended Plush before, during and after the Yates report was released. Ten days after the report, on Oct. 13, the board once again issued a statement supporting Plush saying “(the board) is confident in Jeff’s ability to continue as an effective leader of the organization.”

That statement, though, did not tamp down demands for Plush to be removed from his position, with calls made for other board members to also resign. USA Curling continued to push back and even cut ties with its largest regional association in the country, which was one of the most vocal critics in calling for his ouster.

Fallout from the release of the Yates report has been far-reaching, as Portland’s owner Merritt Paulson stepped away as chief operating officer, while the team also announced it fired general manager Gavin Wilkinson and president of business Mike Goulb. Chicago Red Stars voted unanimously to remove its owner, Arnim Whisler, from the board. Racing Louisville president James O’Connor issued an apology to fans and a player who came forward with allegations of abuse.


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