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NWSL Sep 21, 2020

REPORT: Utah Royals FC head coach placed on leave after alleged inappropriate comments

Utah Royals FC head coach Craig Harrington and assistant coach Louis Lancaster both missed the club’s NWSL Fall Series opener on Sunday, after being placed on administrative leave.

Assistant coach Amy LePeilbet served as interim head coach during Utah’s 3-0 loss on the road against Portland Thorns FC on Sunday at Providence Park.

According to The Athletic’s Meg Linehan, Harrington was placed on leave amid allegations within the organization that he had made “inappropriate comments of a sexual nature to staff”.

Linehan also reported that, according to her understanding from sources, Lancaster was placed on leave for a different reason, not tied to to the alleged behavior of Harrington.

This situation has arisen less than a month after Utah Royals owner Dell Loy Hansen stepped away from the club and announced that he would be selling Utah Soccer Holdings, which also includes MLS team Real Salt Lake and USL side Real Monarchs.

Hansen departed the club after becoming embroiled in controversy over comments he made on a radio show, which were critical of recent players protests which caused the postponement of a Real Salt Lake MLS match. Accusations of previous inappropriate comments surfaced in the ensuing days, largely from anonymous former and current employees, which led to Hansen departing the club.

Now, less than a month later, Harrington’s role is on the ropes as head coach during his first season with the club. Harrington was hired by Utah in February 2020 to replace Laura Harvey, who accepted the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team head coaching position.

According to Linehan, decisions on Harrington and Lancaster were made based on findings from the ongoing investigation into the overall culture of the club, which stems from the situation with Hansen.