There’s been another storyline that’s dominated the West Virginia football program the past couple of days.
Early Tuesday afternoon, West Virginia football player Kerry Martin penned a lengthy statement that he posted on Twitter in which he alleged the mistreatment of himself and his teammates by WVU assistant Vic Koenning. A short time later, the Mountaineers placed the defensive coordinator on administrative leave.
Tuesday night, West Virginia released a letter from head football coach Neal Brown. In it, Brown describes himself as “sick about today’s events,” writing that he “first learned about Kerry’s stated concerns via Twitter.” That’s noteworthy because the safety claimed in his statement that he had meetings with Brown regarding Koenning’s alleged mistreatment.
Wednesday evening, Koenning issued a statement of apology via his Twitter account.
I respect Kerry Martin’s right to share that some of my words and actions impacted him. I care deeply for KJ and, when given the opportunity to speak directly, am optimistic we can find common ground. In the interim, I want to offer my sincere apology to both KJ and the entire WVU Family.
I never intended anything I said or did to offend or be insensitive. But KJ’s tweet reminded me that sometimes intent is not always clearly communicated. I’ve devoted the last 30 plus years of my life to serving young men through coaching. I’ve always tried to see things from the perspective of others. I’m not perfect – but I’m also not the person many on social media have painted me to be. I’m still learning every day and this is an opportunity for me to listen, learn and improve.
Over the past several days, some of our players have asked me why I haven’t spoken out publicly against racism and social injustice. Coach Brown and our administration addressed those important issues on behalf of our program and I fully supported their messages – then and now. At the time, I did not see the need to issue a separate statement. Again, I recognize that this only takes into account my perspective and not that of the players I am leading. Of course I stand against racism and social injustice of any kind. I hope my players know that already, but I proudly say it now. There is no place for that any time, anywhere or any place.
I look forward to fully cooperating with WVU’s independent investigation by sharing what is in my heart and getting to the truth. I will have no further comment out of respect for that process. We will get through this together and be stronger as a team for it.
In announcing Koenning had been placed on administrative leave, athletic director Shane Lyons stated that “the department will work with the appropriate parties to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations.” Brown subsequently confirmed that an independent investigation had been launched.
Koenning has been with Brown the past five seasons. Four of those were spent at Troy along with the 2019 season at WVU.