Morgantown, West Virginia – Since arriving at West Virginia University, Neal Brown has done and said everything perfectly. While previous head coaches were less concerned with their personal images, Brown has gone out of his way to represent the university and state in a way that would make the people of West Virginia proud.
Although the Mountaineers struggled in Brown’s initial season, finishing 5-7 overall and 3-6 in the Big 12 Conference, there was tremendous growth during the season and, more importantly, Brown did it the right way.
In addition to growth on the field, Brown’s top focus since arriving in Morgantown was building a culture within the program that put players first and put a priority on family, camaraderie and togetherness for his team.
That’s what makes this latest development surrounding sophomore safety Kerry Martin, Jr. and defensive coordinator Vic Koenning particularly devastating for Brown; it completely shatters the image that Brown has so carefully cultivated. While we all assumed that the West Virginia players were happy and content in Brown’s bubble, it appears that that is simply not the case.
Brown’s statement said it all: “I come to you tonight sick about today’s events. Earlier today, Kerry Martin expressed his voice and he had every right to do so. I first learned about Kerry’s stated concerns via Twitter. I care deeply about everyone involved and have waited to speak publicly so that I could first speak with Kerry, Vic, the team, and our administration.
After speaking with Kerry, I took immediate action. Along with Shane and his team, we launched an independent investigation. I spoke with all parties involved, the defense as a unit and the team as a whole. I again emphasized to our team that our program culture will be one of acceptance, respect, tolerance, and positive relationships. I stressed to our team and staff that we will be open and transparent throughout the University process.”
Acceptance, respect, tolerance, positive relationships – all pillars of Neal Brown’s culture – suddenly came crumbling down. Brown will now have to show us a different side of him, one in which he proves that he can handle adversity and controversy. Real leaders handle misfortune and hardships with class, dignity and resolve, and there’s no question that Neal Brown is up for the challenge of repairing a truly unfortunate situation for West Virginia University.