West Virginia University says it will not release a report about departed defensive coordinator Vic Koennig, citing the confidentiality of student athletes who spoke with investigators.
“Please be advised that these records which concern information about current and former students contain personally identifiable information and are “education records,” WVU wrote Tuesday in official correspondence denying Freedom of Information Act requests.
West Virgnia MetroNews, like other media organizations, sent a formal Freedom of Information Act request to the university on July 22, the day WVU publicly parted ways with Koenning. WVU initially said it needed more time to process the request and finally responded on Sept. 15.
In its denial, the university cited the the Family Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, a federal law that protects the privacy of student education records.
The university wrote, “Given the nature of the report and the students at issue even if the University were to redact student names, the identity and other information contained in the report would be easily traceable to the students.”
The university’s denial concluded, “therefore the University cannot release those records without the written consent of the students, except as provided by law.”
WVU’s denial means the extent of the allegations against Koenning remains unclear, as does what weight the university placed on the allegations when it agreed to part ways with the coach. It’s also unclear how many athletes or which athletes spoke with investigators.
WVU and Koenning “mutually agreed to separate” following allegations of mistreatment by sophomore safety Kerry Martin.
The separation agreement says Koenning will be paid $591,451 over the next 19 months. He signed a two-year contract with WVU in 2019. His contract had a remaining value of $1,074,059.
In a lengthy tweet posted on June 23, defensive back Martin detailed several instances of alleged mistreatment by Koenning over the course of the last year and a half.
“I had my first incident with him after a mistake I made on the field that he called me retarded for doing the wrong technique,” Martin said in June.
Koenning was placed on administrative leave shortly afterwards. He released a statement the following day apologizing to Martin and the entire WVU family while hoping to find common ground.
Athletic Director Shane Lyons released a statement at the time, alluding to an investigation.
“Coach Vic Koenning has been placed on administrative leave effective immediately, and the department will work with the appropriate parties to conduct a thorough investigation into these allegations. This is serious, and we will act appropriately and in the best interests of our student-athletes,” Lyons stated then.
Football Coach Neal Brown also alluded to the investigation in statements made at the time.
“After speaking with Kerry, I took immediate action. Along with Shane and his team, we launched an independent investigation,” Brown said then.
He added, “I stressed to our team and staff that we will be open and transparent throughout the University process.”