Mike Polisky resigns as Northwestern Wildcats athletic director

EVANSTON, Ill. -- Mike Polisky resigned as Northwestern's athletic director Wednesday amid mounting criticism following his promotion last week to replace Jim Phillips.

Polisky said in a statement he is stepping down as AD and leaving the school after 11 years because "current challenges will not allow me to effectively lead our department" and he does not want to be a "distraction."

He is one of four defendants along with the university in a sexual harassment lawsuit filed in January by a former Northwestern cheerleader who said she was groped by drunken fans and alumni at school-sanctioned events and administrators tried to cover up her complaints, according to the Chicago Tribune.

President Morton Schapiro announced linguistics professor Robert Gundlach will serve as interim AD. Gundlach is Northwestern's faculty athletics representative to the NCAA and Big Ten.

A Chicago-area native, Polisky joined Northwestern in 2010 after working for the Arena Football League's Chicago Rush and American Hockey League's Chicago Wolves. He worked closely with Phillips in branding and strategy and helped develop the "Chicago's Big Ten Team" marketing campaign.

Phillips had been the school's AD since 2008, leading the athletic department through a period of success in competition and growth in facilities before he was hired as the Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner in December. He finished work at Northwestern in February.