by Jim Buzzerd
West Virginia University and the football team have parted ways with defensive coordinator Vic Koenning. Athletic director Shane Lyons suspended Koenning last month after sophomore safety Kerry Martin made allegations of mistreatment against him on social media. Koenning is an ‘old school’ type coach and it appears that his coaching style doesn’t mesh with what today’s youth wants. Koenning is now a former Mountaineer defensive coordinator.
The problem is today’s youth can make allegations on social media and bring down a coach they may have some disagreement with. The whole story is not available, because there is a lot of he said, she said stuff to look at. The allegations don’t appear to be racially motivated. Koenning apparently referred to Martin as ‘retarded’ for missing some assignments in practice. There was some mention of Koenning not being understanding of some of the players choice of religion.
It’s been almost half a century since I played football, but practice back then was about the farthest thing from church camp as one could imagine. It was not for kids with thin skins. Coaches would routinely break you down to build you up. And when they did so, they weren’t being nice. I hated it when it happened to me, but I dealt with it. In the years since I’ve concluded, in my case at least, the process helped me play better.
I can see where the tough coaching style can seem abusive, and may well be depending on the coach, but I’m not getting the feeling Koenning has run afoul on this. One of Martin’s Tweets suggests this to a degree. “No, 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.”
I mean is his heinous action just being a tough football coach? Sounds like it could be the underlying problem here. Last week the parties agreed to separate. As part of the agreement Koenning will be paid almost $600K on the remaining $1 million value of his contract.
Koenning had this statement. “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. 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.”