Morgantown, West Virginia – Last month, sophomore defensive back Kerry Martin, Jr. sent shockwaves through the West Virginia football program when he accused then-defensive coordinator Vic Koenning of “mistreatment of players.”
Martin’s accusations and a thorough investigation into the matter ultimately led to Koenning and West Virginia University agreeing to “mutually separate.” However, no details were released by the university and there are many questions that remain.
One such question is why are there so many contradictions in the wording and statements made by the parties involved? For example, Kerry Martin Jr. was clear to point out that he spoke with Head Coach Neal Brown about the mistreatment by Koenning prior to him taking his complaints to social media. This was a real issue with West Virginia fans; many wondered why Martin simply didn’t report his complaints to Brown or the university? In Martin’s own words, he did. More than once. “I have had meetings with Coach Brown himself about the mistreatment that I have received from Coach Vic.”
However, according to the statement released on the official West Virginia Sports website called “A Letter from Neal Brown”, Brown contradicts Martin’s accusation, saying, “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.”
If Neal Brown was lying about this: First, say Brown was not lying and first heard about Koenning’s treatment on social media, you have to wonder what kind of relationship he has with his players. Do they feel like they can have open and honest communication with Brown, or are they afraid to speak up to the Head Coach?
If Brown had meetings with Martin about Koenning prior to the social media post, this would also be bad because he would obviously be covering for himself and his friend/colleague Koenning. The immediate question that would have been asked is: “If Brown knew about this, why didn’t he do something about it?”
Brown denied knowing anything about it, however. With that said…
If Kerry Martin was lying about this: Martin said a few things that were later refuted. To begin, he said that his former high school coach said that Vic Koenning had a “slave master’s mentality.” His former coach not only denied that, he also went on to say that if he knew about it, he certainly wouldn’t have let it happen and would have stopped it himself. It’s hard to find any logical reason for his high school coach to lie about this.
Martin saying that he spoke to Brown prior to the social media messages is critical here. If he did in fact speak with Brown, that’s a real issue. Brown should be held accountable for not taking action. If Martin did not speak with Brown prior to his messages on social media, Martin should be held accountable.
Either Brown or Martin is not being entirely truthful here and neither has been reprimanded for their actions. If Brown knew about Martin’s concerns, he absolutely should have taken action and fixed it in-house. This would have potentially saved Koenning his job and the football program a lot of money and grief. If Martin did not speak with Brown, he should apologize and be suspended. That seemingly-simple distinction is actually a really big deal and led to a huge scandal for the university.
Ultimately, whether it was Brown or Martin who is not being entirely honest, Martin should have gone to his head coach with his concerns, Brown should have listened and responded by speaking to Koenning, and this whole situation could have been resolved without it being made public and without anyone losing their job.