MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia has parted ways with defensive coordinator Vic Koenning a month after a player alleged the assistant coach made a series of insensitive remarks, including against Hispanics.
The school announced Koenning's departure by mutual agreement, which athletic director Shane Lyons said in a statement Wednesday was “in the best interest of our football program.”
Coach Neal Brown, who was hired a year ago and brought Koenning with him from Troy, said the decision “was not made lightly and both parties agree that it places us in the best position to positively move forward.”
Brown added that both he and Koenning reached the conclusion that the allegations made it “challenging” for Koenning to continue in his role.
"At the end of the day, we all — Vic included — want what is best for our program,” Brown said.
Sophomore safety Kerry Martin posted the allegations on his Twitter account about Koenning, who was then placed on administrative leave. The assistant coach issued a public apology the next day, saying his words and actions were not meant to be offensive or insensitive.
Koenning apologized again Wednesday. He said he was “relieved the process is over but will be forever changed by the experience.”
Martin said the latest incident happened June 23, when Koenning shared a conversation he had with his son about protests over racial injustice.
Martin, who is Black, said Koenning’s “exact words were, ‘If people did not want to get tear gassed, or push back by the police then they shouldn’t be outside protesting.’”
Martin said he spoke up right away and asked what Koenning meant but said Koenning “couldn’t give a straight answer.” A graduate assistant stepped in to try to defuse the situation.
During a June 2019 workout in Morgantown, Martin said Koenning “called me retarded for doing the wrong technique.” Martin said he has family members who are mentally ill, “and for him to say that hurt me because it was an action we could fix.”
During 2019 spring football practices, Martin said Koenning antagonized defensive back Derek Pitts “for believing in something that (Koenning) didn’t believe,” Martin said.
Martin said Koenning then would discuss religion and the Bible in front of Pitts, who transferred last summer to Marshall.
Martin said Koenning found out last fall that Martin had converted his religious beliefs “and pulled me into his office on multiple occasions and talked about religion.” Martin said Koenning also has made him read passages from the coach’s Bible.
Koenning also would discuss his views on politics during position meetings during the 2019 season, according to Martin.
In one particular meeting, Koenning talked about President Donald Trump “and how he should ‘build the wall and keep Hispanics out (of) the country,’” said Martin, who said someone of Hispanic descent was in the meeting.
The separation agreement calls for Koenning, who had two seasons remaining on his contract, to be paid a total of about $590,000.