Morgantown, West Virginia – College athletics is a major business. Millions and millions of dollars are produced for universities every year and there is a lot riding on the image of the school remaining impeccable. Student athletes are impulsive and reactionary, and that’s why it’s important that universities educate players on what is acceptable to share and what’s potentially damaging.
When Kerry Martin, Jr. posted his thoughts on social media regarding his former defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, virtually all parties involved agrees that it could have been handled better. Kerry Martin was not wrong for sharing his thoughts, but perhaps if he realized in advance the consequences of his actions, he would have reconsidered.
Rather than West Virginia University’s misguided “brand-building classes”, led by brand consultant Jeremy Darlow, the focus should remain on the football program. Darlow’s vision of building brands for college athletes will perhaps lead to a player-centric atmosphere and players being more visible for potential NFL futures, but ultimately it’s difficult to see how it is what is best for the team.
West Virginia University should have a yearly roundtable discussion on what should and should not be made public on social media, highlighting very specific examples and non-examples, as well as consequences for their actions. In addition, it’s important that players feel that they have an open door to approach the coaching staff with concerns. Otherwise, all of this is meaningless.
With education and transparency, situations like the Kerry Martin/Vic Koenning saga could easily be avoided. While I stand behind a player’s decision to use his or her voice, it’s absolutely critical that all options are exhausted prior to a player making a personal matter the business of millions of people.