West Virginia defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has been placed on administrative leave after being accused of mistreatment by a WVU player.
The player, sophomore safety Kerry Martin Jr., made the allegations in a lengthy note posted to Twitter. Martin wrote that he dealt with “mistreatment and racism” growing up in the state of West Virginia, and that it has continued in his time playing for the Mountaineers.
Martin wrote that Koenning, who also serves as WVU’s safeties coach, called him a slur for a mentally disabled person during a summer workout. He also alleged that Koenning made several inappropriate comments about politics, religion and the recent protests concerning racism and police brutality.
As a result, West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons has placed Koenning on administrative leave, effective immediately. The athletic department will conduct an investigation into Martin’s claims.
“I want to thank Kerry Martin for having the courage to bring his concerns to light. We will not tolerate any form of racism, discrimination or bias on our campus, including our athletic programs,” Lyons said. “Coach Vic Koenning has been placed on administrative leave effective immediately, and the department will work with the appropriate parties to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations. This is serious, and we will act appropriately and in the best interests of our student-athletes."
Koenning accused of making insensitive comments
Martin, who said he has brought up his feelings about Koenning to WVU head coach Neal Brown, said Koenning during the 2019 season would say that President Trump should “build the wall and keep Hispanics out of the country” while there was a Hispanic person present during a position meeting.
Martin said that earlier this week Koenning was vocal about recent protests during a meeting.
“His exact words were, ‘If people did not want to get tear gassed or pushed back by the police then they shouldn’t be outside protesting,’ ” Martin wrote.
Martin said he spoke up and asked Koenning “what he meant by that,” but a graduate assistant stepped in to “defuse the situation” and get the conversation back to football. Martin said once the meeting ended, Koenning asked him to stay on the call so he could “apologize and give clarity on what he said.”
Martin compelled to speak out
Martin said he and his teammates (many of whom have supported him on social media) have “been dealing with these situations for a while” but he did not initially speak out because he “didn’t want to bring negativity to the program.” However, “with everything going on,” Martin felt like he had to bring it to light.
“Coach Vic is not a bad person and he does mean well in many [different] aspects but his heinous actions towards us over rules the good things he has done and many of us are uncomfortable with being around him,” Martin wrote. “My teammates and I have been dealing with these situations for a while and there [have] also been occasions with him and another staff member. I never spoke on it to the public and my teammates along with myself [have] wondered why he has not spoken up against racial justice.
“I have not told anyone else this that is not my family member or involved with my family because I didn’t want to bring negativity to the program but with everything going on and for him to still act this way and feel okay saying what he said is not okay. Enough is enough.”
Additionally, Martin alleged that Koenning “antagonized” former WVU defensive back Derrek Pitts about Pitts’ religion. Martin also said Koenning pulled him aside in his office multiple times to talk about religion and read him bible scriptures after finding out that Martin converted religions.
Koenning arrived at WVU in 2019 when Brown was hired as the Mountaineers’ head coach. Koenning previously worked under Brown at Troy for four seasons.
Martin played in 12 games in 2019 as a freshman, including four starts. He totaled 50 tackles on the season.
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