WVU Defensive Coordinator Koenning issues online apology

FILE - In this Sept. 27, 2014, file photo, Vic Koenning, at the time the defensive coordinator at North Carolina, watches during the first half of the team's NCAA college football game against Clemson in Clemson, S.C. West Virginia has placed defensive coordinator Koenning on administrative leave after a player alleged the assistant coach made a series of inappropriate comments. West Virginia athletic director Shane Lyons announced the move Tuesday, June 23, 2020, after safety Kerry Martin posted the allegations on his Twitter account.

MORGANTOWN – West Virginia’s defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, under fire and under investigation since sophomore safety Kerry Martin Jr. went on social media and accused him of insensitive comments and actions, offered an online apology Wednesday evening to Martin and the West Virginia football team.

“I respect Kerry Martin’s right to share that some of my words and actions impacted him,” wrote the veteran coach, who has been placed on administrative leave. “I care deeply for KJ and, when given the opportunity to speak to him directly, 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.”

Martin, who started four games last year and who is expected to have a strong career at WVU, charged that Koenning had used “heinous” words and acts which involved religion, politics and social oppression.

Two of his charges have come in question already, his high school coach Jon Carpenter denying that he ever told him that Koenning had a “slave master” demeanor when visiting Capital High and head coach Neal Brown saying that he had not learned of Martin’s displeasure until he Tweeted, even though Martin said he had approached Brown with the problem.

“I never intended anything I said or did to offend or be insensitive,” Koenning’s apology went on. “But KJ’s tweet reminded me that sometime 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.

“Over the past several days, some of our players have asked me why I haven’t spoken out publicly against racism and social injustice,” Koenning went on. “Coach Brown and our administration addressed those important issues on behalf of our program and I fully supported their messages — then and now.

“At the time, I did not see the need to issue a separate statement. Again, I recognize that this only takes into account my perspective and not that of the players I am leading.

“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.”

Koenning went on to say that he would fully cooperate with the investigation and that he would have nothing further to say publicly on the matter.

“We will get through this together and be a stronger team because of it,” he concluded.

Follow Bob Hertzel on Twitter @bhertzel

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