West Virginia and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning are parting ways.
Koenning was placed on administrative leave last month after one of his players, safety Kerry Martin Jr., accused him of mistreatment. On Wednesday, nearly a month after the school opened an investigation into Koenning’s alleged conduct, the two sides “have mutually agreed to separate,” the school said.
Koenning, who came to WVU with Neal Brown from Troy in 2019 when Brown was hired as the Mountaineers’ head coach, will be paid $591,451 over the next 19 months as part of the separation agreement. Koenning had two years and $1,074,059 remaining on his contract.
"This mutual separation is in the best interest of our football program,” WVU athletic director Shane Lyons said. “Coach Brown and I have set high expectations for our coaches, staff and student-athletes, and it is that culture that will allow us to compete for championships. We are moving forward as a program and our coaches, staff and student-athletes have my complete confidence and support."
Martin, in a note posted to Twitter on June 23, accused Koenning of making inappropriate comments about politics, religion and the recent protests concerning racism and police brutality. Martin also alleged that Koenning, who also coached WVU’s safeties, called him a slur for a mentally disabled person during a summer workout.
Martin said he and his teammates, many of whom supported him on social media, had been dealing “with these situations for a while” but did not want to bring “negativity to the program.” However, with the social unrest in the country, Martin felt like he had to speak out.
“Coach Vic is not a bad person and 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 with being around him,” Martin wrote.
Koenning: ‘I will be forever changed by the experience’
Koenning, a day after Martin’s allegations surfaced, issued an apology and said he “never intended” for anything he “said or did to offend or to be insensitive.” He also said getting called out by Martin provided an “opportunity to listen, learn and improve.”
On Wednesday, Koenning reiterated his apology but said his presence within the program would “create additional scrutiny and lingering distractions” for WVU.
"I remain apologetic to anyone who perceived something I said or did as hurtful. That was never my intent. I wish to thank all the current and former players, coaches and colleagues — of all different ethnicities and backgrounds — whose support and encouragement have been invaluable to me and my family. I am relieved the process is over but will be forever changed by the experience,” Koenning wrote.
“Personally, I'd love to get back to coaching our guys, but I know that doing so would create additional scrutiny and lingering distractions for our program. Taking all this into consideration, we have come to this mutual decision to separate. I will always be grateful for the relationships formed with so many players, coaches and WVU supporters. I am not done coaching. I remain passionate about leading young men and look forward to the next coaching chapter in my life. I wish nothing but the best for all Mountaineers."
Brown: Decision allows WVU to ‘positively move forward’
In a statement, Brown said that he cares deeply about Koenning but Wednesday’s decision puts WVU “in the best position to positively move forward.”
"As I've stated previously, I care deeply about Vic and every player, coach, staff member, and administrator who touches our program. This decision was not made lightly and both parties agree that it places us in the best position to positively move forward,” Brown said.
“Vic has meant a lot to this program over the past 18 months and to me, personally, for our time together both here and at Troy University. I know that Vic will find continued success as a coach. However, Vic and I both reached the conclusion that the current circumstances make continuing in his role as Defensive Coordinator challenging. At the end of the day, we all — Vic included — want what is best for our program."
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