Eastern Kentucky University issued a statement Wednesday afternoon, a day after redshirt junior kicker Landon White announced he was leaving the football program over concerns for his safety.
White took to Instagram on Tuesday to announce what he termed a resignation. "Not huge news in the sports world I know but... No matter what you hear the facts are the facts, with the main fact being the coach and some staff, do not care about player safety. I will surely miss my brothers on the field. This is a tough day for me, but somebody has gotta tell the truth on what us athletes are going through during this pandemic."
As reported by CBS affiliate WKYT in Lexington, the university issued the following statement attributed to athletic director Matt Roan:
Eastern Kentucky University Athletics is aware of online statements recently made by a former student-athlete. First and foremost, the health, safety and overall well-being of our student-athletes will always be a primary priority. Head Football Coach Walt Wells and I have met continuously to ensure that football operations continue to adhere to local, state and health organization guidelines. We completely agree that egregiously or willfully ignoring safety guidelines, or our established protocol by any of our athletic programs, staff or students is a serious issue and will not be tolerated.
Our programs returned to campus on July 6. In preparation for summer participation, every student-athlete and sport-specific coach and staff member was tested for COVID-19. Furthermore, any student-athlete reporting to campus for activity for the first time in August has been, and will continue to be, required to receive a negative test result prior to their return. To coincide with the recent commencement of preseason practice, weekly testing will be performed consistent with resocialization requirements. When a student-athlete, coach or staff member reports symptoms to EKU Sports Medicine, that individual has been immediately monitored, tested and quarantined, if necessary.
Our staff and coaches take every opportunity to remind student-athletes to practice social distancing – including conducting meetings virtually – wear the proper masks/PPP, practice proper hygiene and to contact EKU Sports Medicine if they are feeling ill.
We continue to learn during this pandemic and our protocols evolve as we learn new information and receive additional guidance from public health professionals. EKU Athletics continues to work in lockstep with University administration, the EKU Office of Public Safety and Risk Management and the Madison County Health Department.
White describes meeting rooms packed by more than 100 people with no social distancing, and dining hall settings in which reminders about wearing masks come from dining staff and not coaches.
"The Head Coach knows and the Head Coach does nothing," White wrote in his post. "The Head Coach does not care about his players safety as well as his staff and their families."
In an interview Wednesday night, EKU head coach Walt Wells said players who have symptoms are encouraged to get tested. “We have a protocol that you don’t come here if you have those symptoms,” Wells said. “We just have to continue to educate them and say, ‘we get you tested, we find out what’s going on with you, and we can help you'.”
But White contends, "At Eastern Kentucky Football there is little or no testing, (last team test was July 6). Symptomatic players still in the building and around other teammates. But the same day people had symptoms we continued to practice instead of face the issue head on.
"I love my teammates as well as my family and I’ll forever cherish the l moments I had with them," his IG post concludes. "With 2 pregnant sisters, 3 nieces and a nephew, and a mom & dad as well as my Grandmother and grandfather I love dearly, I need to protect them at ALL cost. I will not endanger anyones health by continuing to play. This goes for my players family and my family.
"People need to know what the NCAA and University is really about and it’s not about player safety."