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Timbers, Thorns Exec Mike Golub Accused of 'Gross,' 'Toxic' Behavior Toward Women

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 14, 2022

Soobum Im/Getty Images

Ten former employees of the Portland Timbers and Thorns said that president of business Mike Golub contributed to a "toxic" work environment and created an "atmosphere of disrespect and intimidation toward women and working mothers employed at the club over a span of 11 years," according to Ryan Clarke of The Oregonian.

Per that report, women who left those organizations reported "multiple instances of inappropriate comments or jokes in office settings, unwanted physical contact, and hostile behavior they say goes beyond the typically demanding atmosphere of working in sports."

Blair Neelands, who previously worked with the organization's Stand Together initiative, told Clarke that Golub "yells and frequently gets angry in meetings, throws soccer balls or other objects at employees to try to catch them off guard, quizzes subordinates on unrelated matters in the middle of presentations, eats bites of people's food and takes sips from their drinks, and engages in boundary-crossing horseplay in office settings," which other former employees corroborated.

Another former employee said Golub commented on her body.

"I was discussing my workout routine with Mike, like how often I go and everything, and he looked my body up and down multiple times and said to me, 'I think yoga would be good for your body, too,'" she said. "It just felt so gross."

“Mike has definitely rubbed my shoulders before,” another former female employee said.

"He's just one of those guys who will stare at you," one former female employee added. "As a younger woman, I just felt like whenever I'd talk to him it was uncomfortable. He's touchy, too. He'll go up to you and put his arm around you or rub your shoulders."

After former Thorns coach Paul Riley was accused by former players Sinead Farrelly and Mana Shim of sexual coercion—and former Timbers player Andy Polo was accused of domestic abuse by his former partner, Génessis Alarcón, the mother of his children—the Timbers and Thorns underwent an internal review by law firm DLA Piper, which uncovered "three concerns on the business side of the organization relating primarily to three then-current employees."

The club hasn't publicly released the specifics of those findings, though owner Merritt Paulson acknowledged that Golub was a part of that inquiry.

"In that process, there were a handful of concerns raised about Mike from employees that were not direct reports to him," he said. “Those concerns were addressed with Mike. He leaned into those concerns and basically said, ‘if there’s any perceptions about my management style that make anybody feel uncomfortable, I’m open to solution and remediation.’ Remediation was suggested specifically to him, and he is undergoing that remediation."

Golub also commented on the matter.

"My entire career, it's never been raised as an issue," he said. "That said, we're in different times now. If how I conducted myself, with truly the best intentions, made anyone feel uncomfortable, I take that really seriously. I'm really good at what I do, and I'm a really good person, but I can be better."

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