NCAA

West Virginia defensive coordinator Vic Koenning placed on leave for mistreatment allegations

West Virginia defensive coordinator Vic Koenning placed on leave for mistreatment allegations

West Virginia University football defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has been placed on administrative leave, the school announced on Tuesday.

His leave of absence is following allegations made by Mountaineer safety Kerry Martin Jr. on Twitter. 

In the tweet, Martin alleged Koenning made inappropriate comments about current protests against police brutality and systemic racism, supported President Trump's desire to build a wall to "keep Hispanics out of the country," called him a slur used for a mentally disabled person, and challenged his religious beliefs publically and privately. 

"We need a change in our program," Martin said. "Coach Vic is not a bad person and he does mean well in many [different] aspects but his heinous actions toward us over rules the good things he has done and many of us are uncomfortable being around him."

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After being placed on administrative leave, West Virginia defensive coordinator Vic Koenning has issued an apology. 

“I respect Kerry Martin’s right to share that some of my words and actions impacted him. I care deeply for KJ and, when given the opportunity to speak to him directly, am optimistic we can find common ground. In the interim, I want to offer my sincere apology to both KJ and the entire WVU family,” Koenning said. 

“I never intended anything I said or did to offend or be insensitive. But KJ’s tweet reminded me that sometimes intent is not always clearly communicated. I’ve devoted the last 30-plus years of my life to serving young men through coaching. I’ve always tried to see things from the perspective of others. I’m not perfect — but I’m also not the person many on social media have painted me to be. I’m still learning every day and this is an opportunity to listen, learn and improve.”

Koenning was brought to WVU in 2019 when head coach Neal Brown was hired as the Mountaineers’ head coach.

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Heart condition linked to coronavirus a concern for Power 5 programs

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Heart condition linked to coronavirus a concern for Power 5 programs

As the Big Ten and other Power 5 conferences decide whether or not to have fall sports, numerous factors are part of the decision. The risk of infection during the coronavirus pandemic is enough in itself to halt plans, but a potential condition linked to the virus has become a major concern for many.

Myocarditis, which is the inflammation of the heart muscle, is a rare viral infection that studies have shown may be potentially linked to the coronavirus at a higher frequency than other viruses. It can be fatal if left untreated. Though uncommon, it has been found in several college athletes including five in the Big Ten, according to ESPN.

The Mid-American Conference postponed its fall season on Saturday, in part due to initial studies on Myocarditis.

"What we don't know was really haunting us, and that's why we came to our final decision," Northern Illinois athletic director Sean Frazier said. "That's part of the data that our presidents used. This mom gave us a play-by-play. That stuff is extremely scary."

With much still unknown about conditions connected to the virus, Power 5 programs and administrators are now faced with the risk of exposing their athletes and staff to complications beyond the initial infection of COVID-19. 

Testing and lags are problems that exist as well, but there is a larger body of work to show how those factors can impact a person and team. As for the rare heart condition, there are still numerous unanswered questions about the long terms effects.

Though the desire is there to have football and other sports be played, many understand that the risk may outweigh the reward.

"We are collectively, as a sports nation, not quite ready to feel entirely comfortable with what that may look like for our young people down the line, and we are not going to put them in that situation," Dr. John MacKnight, the head primary care team physician at the University of Virginia, said during a recent availability.

"There have been some concerns raised for that very reason: Do you not have uneasiness about having athletes participating knowing that you don't know what that longer-range outlook is? The answer is of course, yes," MacKnight said. "We don't have enough information to say this is the likelihood that this will or will not happen."

So while some players and coaches are campaigning for a season, reports that the Big Ten and others may soon announce the cancellation of the season run deeper than the fear of infection. Though that is a concern, there are additional, long term problems that could arise. 

It's a legitimate concern, and one that could derail the fall season for college sports.

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President Trump favors college football being played in 2020 amid coronavirus pandemic

President Trump favors college football being played in 2020 amid coronavirus pandemic

President Donald Trump wants to see college football played this fall despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

"The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be cancelled," Trump tweeted on Monday.

Trump's post was a quote tweet response to Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence, arguably the brightest star in college football and likely No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Lawrence was one of many notable players across the country to tweet the hashtag #WeWantToPlay on Sunday following multiple reports that the college football season could be canceled or postponed as early as this week.

Following Sunday's reports that the season likely won't happen, Lawrence was one of several stars from multiple Power 5 teams that joined a Zoom call Sunday evening to attempt and organize a plan for players to express their opinion on the why they should play and ultimately save the season. 

Other notable names such as Ohio State's Justin Fields, Alabama's Najee Harris, and Oregon's Penei Sewell were on the call, according to ESPN. Since then, college football players have reportedly attempted to unionize as one final push to save the season.

Lawrence also explained in detail on Sunday why he feels there should be a college football season. The Clemson QB tweeted Sunday night saying he believes that canceling the season would actually put college football players more at risk of the contracting virus.

"Players being safe and taking all of the right precautions to try to avoid contracting covid because the season/ teammates safety is on the line. Without the season, as we’ve seen already, people will not social distance or wear masks and take the proper precautions," Lawrence wrote on his Twitter thread. 

While the outlook for the 2020 college football season doesn't look promising, Lawrence and several of the sport's biggest names are not going down without a fight. And based off President Trump's tweet, it looks as if he's on the players' side.

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