Former Troy coach placed on administrative leave

Published 5:31 pm Wednesday, June 24, 2020

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Former Troy defensive coordinator and current West Virginia defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has been placed on administrative leave after a player accused the coach of making insensitive remarks.

West Virginia Athletic Director Shane Lyons announced the decision to put Koenning on leave on Tuesday after safety Kerry Martin posted the allegations on Twitter. “He does mean well in many different aspects, but his heinous actions towards us overrules the good things he has done and many of us are uncomfortable being around him,” Martin wrote.

Martin’s social media post included references to several incidents, including references to the recent riots. “His exact words were ‘If people did not want to get tear gassed or push back by the police then they shouldn’t be outside protesting.” Martin said in his post. “I then spoke up instantly and asked what he meant by that and he couldn’t give me a straight answer.”

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According the statement, Martin said that Koenning quickly tried to diffuse the situation by changing the subject. He later called Martin to apologize and give more clarity on what he said.

In his statement, Martin also accused Koenning of calling him “retarded” in 2019 for making technique mistakes; reading Bible passages to Martin after learning he had changed religions; and discussing politics. “During the 2019 season he was talking about President Trump and how he should ‘build the wall and keep the Hispanics out of the country,” Martin said in the post.

In his statement on Twitter, Martin said he didn’t want to bring negativity to the program. “With everything going on and for him to still act this way and feel okay with saying what he said is not okay,” Martin said. “Enough is enough.”

Head coach Neal Brown, in a statement released by the university, said he was sickened by the events, but he thanks Kerry Martin for expressing his voice.

“After speaking with Kerry, I took immediate action,” Brown said in his statement. “Along with Shane (Lyons) 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 would 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.”

Koenning released a statement on Wednesday evening.

“I respect Kerry Martin’s right to share that some of my words and actions impacted him,” Koenning said. “I care deeply for KJ, and when given the opportunity to speak to him directly, I 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 years of my life to serving young men through coaching…I’m still learning every day this is an opportunity for me to listen, learn and improve.”

Koenning was Troy’s defensive coordinator in 2003 and 2004. He returned to Troy as a defensive coordinator from 2015 until 2018. Koenning went to West Virginia in 2019 with Brown, who had been at Troy 2015-2018.