West Virginia defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, placed on administrative leave earlier this week amid an investigation into allegations of security abuse by Kerry Martin Jr., issued a “sincere apology to both KJ and the entire WVU family “in a statement posted on Twitter on Wednesday.
With time to reflect, some thoughts from my heart. pic.twitter.com/paRgbeVJK3
– Vic Koenning (@CoachVic_WVU) June 24, 2020
Martin detailed the mistreatment he received from Koenning in a lengthy social media post Tuesday, writing: “We need a change in our program.” The sophomore alleged that Koenning, who also trains WVU security measures, called him “retarded” during a team training earlier this month and has made inappropriate comments about religion, politics and the recent protests of racism and police brutality.
In the wake of Martin’s tweets, West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons announced that Koenning had been released immediately while the department conducts a thorough investigation into the allegations.
“I respect Kerry Martin’s right to share that some of my words and actions affected him,” said Koenning’s statement. “I care deeply about KJ and when I have the opportunity to speak to him directly, I am optimistic that we can find common ground.”
“I never intended for anything I said or did to offend or be insensitive. But KJ’s Tweet reminded me that sometimes intention is not always clearly communicated. I have dedicated the last 30 years of my life to serving young men through training. I’ve always tried to see things from the perspective of others. I’m not perfect, but I’m also not the person that many on social media have painted for me. I’m still learning every day and this is a opportunity for me to listen, learn and improve. “
Koenning, 60, joined the West Virginia staff in 2019 after working in the same role under current mountaineering coach Neal Brown in Troy from 2015 to 2018. Koenning spent three seasons as Wyoming’s head coach and led Illinois in an interim position of head coach in 2011.
In his comments Tuesday, Martin referred to a virtual meeting earlier this week in which Koenning allegedly said of the recent protests: “If people do not want tear gas or the police to reject it, then they should not be outside. protesting. ” “Martin said he tried to address Koenning’s comments at the meeting, but a graduate assistant stepped in and led the conversation to football. Koenning asked Martin to stay on the call afterward and” wanted to apologize and clarify what he said. ” .
Koenning noted in his statement Wednesday that in recent days, “some of our players have asked me why I have not spoken publicly against racism and social injustice.” He clarified that he supported Brown’s recent comments on behalf of the soccer program and said he did not see the need to issue a statement of his own at the time.
“Again, I recognize that this only takes into account my perspective and not that of the players I lead,” said Koenning. “Of course I am against racism and social injustice of any kind. I hope my players already know this, but I am proud to say so now. There is no place for that at any time, anywhere or anywhere.”
Koenning said he would not comment further on the matter out of respect for the school’s independent investigation, writing to conclude: “We are going to get through this together and be stronger as a team.”
Information from ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg was used in this report.