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WVU Football Assistant Apologizes After Allegations

Brock Fritz

West Virginia University defensive coordinator Vic Koenning issued an apology a day after a current football player made allegations of mistreatment and insensitive comments.

Sophomore safety Kerry Martin Jr. posted allegations on Twitter on Tuesday, detailing recent meetings in which Koenning allegedly made negative comments about protestors, religion and how Donald Trump should “build the wall to keep Hispanics out the country.”

Koenning, who took the West Virginia job in January 2019, was immediately placed on administrative leave. He posted an apology and reflections Wednesday on Twitter, starting by saying he cares about Martin and respects his right to share how Koenning’s actions have impacted him.

“I want to offer my sincere apology to both KJ and the entire WVU Family,” Koenning wrote. “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.”

Related content: WVU Coordinator Placed on Leave After Player Allegations

Koenning wrote that he’s had recent conversations with players asking him why he hasn’t publicly spoken out against racism and social injustice. He said he fully supported statements made by university higher-ups and didn’t originally feel the need to make a separate statement.

“Again, I recognize that this only takes into account my perspective and not that of the players I am leading,” Koenning wrote. “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.”

West Virginia director of athletics Shane Lyons made a Tuesday statement announcing that Koenning had been placed on administrative leave.

“I want to thank Kerry Martin for having the courage to bring his concerns to light,” Lyons wrote. “We will not tolerate any form of racism, discrimination or bias on our campus, including our athletic programs. 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.”

West Virginia head coach Neal Brown, who was also the head coach when Koenning was Troy’s defensive coordinator from 2015 to 2018, released a statement Tuesday, saying “After speaking with Kerry, I took immediate action. Along with Shane and his team, we launched an independent investigation. I spoke with all parties involved, the defense as a unit and the team as a whole. I again emphasized to our team that our program culture will be one of acceptance, respect, tolerance, and positive relationships. I stressed to our team and staff that we will be open and transparent throughout the University process.”

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