OPINION: Whatever ....

Apr. 16—It's been almost two years since the last time I spoke with Eastern Kentucky University's Vice President and Director of Athletics — Matt Roan.

July 21, 2022

I'll always remember that day. And I'll always remember that conversation.

His words will echo in my mind forever.

I've wanted to share this story for a long, long time.

Now is that time.

In the summer of 2022, The Register published a series of stories about abuse allegations against long-time EKU softball coach Jane Worthington. During a two-week period, I spoke with dozens of former players, many of whom had played at the school more than 20 years ago, and documented their claims.

The accusations were strikingly similar, despite being spread out over a long period of time.

I listened as adult women told me about their experiences as part of the EKU softball team.

Some of them cried during our conversations. Some of them told me they still had nightmares about the coach, even years after their playing days were over. Some of them said they still couldn't look in the mirror without feeling bad about themselves.

It was heartbreaking.

I documented the stories of the women who were courageous enough to go "on the record." There were many more who didn't want their name attached to anything — because they still feared retribution.

The Register's stories prompted an "investigation" by the university.

Two weeks later, a 14-page "report" was issued by EKU. It completely exonerated the coach, sweeping all the accusations away, often only relying on the response of the coach to address these serious allegations.

On that day — July 22, 2022 — we were told Roan would be available to discuss the report.

The staff of The Register poured through the 14 pages in just the few hours we had before the meeting. Former Register editor Ricki Pryor and I had plenty of questions for Roan when we sat down at a table with him in Alumni Coliseum that afternoon

He didn't have any answers.

I honestly didn't feel like he had actually read the report.

The conversation ended with a stunning moment.

Roan looked at us and said, "The allegations you've made ..."

We stopped him mid-sentence.

We reminded him that neither of us had made any allegations. That everything, which was documented in the newspaper, had come directly from former players.

His response?

One word.


It still makes me angry to think about that moment. My hands are shaking and my teeth are clenched as I write these words almost two years later.

He insulted me. To my face.

Roan questioned my integrity. But, that's not what was the important thing.

That response showed that he didn't take the concerns of those former student-athletes seriously — not for one single moment. It was easier to put the blame on someone else and not address the issue.

That one word, "whatever," told me all I needed to know about Matt Roan.

And I didn't want to hear another word from him ever again.

Almost two years later, Roan has left Eastern Kentucky University. On Thursday, it was announced that he had signed a deal to become the new athletics director at James Madison University.

I had heard the AD had been looking to move for some time, despite recently signing a contract extension through 2027.

Roan's tenure at EKU was complicated.

There were some successes — the rebirth of the tennis programs, an FCS Football Playoff appearance (2022), and an individual NCAA Track and Field champion — but there were plenty of missteps which will likely be the bigger part of his legacy (Remember ... The Register discovered Roan and other high-ranking EKU officials were using private e-mails to conduct official business, with the express purpose of hiding information from the public).

Is the athletic department in a better place than when Roan arrived?

That's an assessment that is well above my pay grade. So, I won't speculate.

Whoever follows Roan, though, will have some serious issues to address, most notably the future of the football program — which has jumped aimlessly from conference to conference in the past few seasons — and the renovations at Alumni Coliseum.

It won't be easy.

But, it's time to move on.

Roan's departure — at this moment — might just be a blessing in disguise.

Or, whatever.