Shane Lyons acted expediently with decisiveness.
It was precisely what West Virginia University’s athletic director needed to do under the circumstances.
Considering the current climate in this country and the obvious cultural sensitivity, when the controversy broke Tuesday involving Mountaineers defensive coordinator Vic Koenning and sophomore safety Kerry Martin Jr., it was imperative for Lyons to step up and take control.
So, he did.
Lyons did his job swiftly and appropriately by releasing a statement announcing the 60-year-old Koenning had been placed on administrative leave.
“I want to thank Kerry Martin for having the courage to bring his concerns to light,” said Lyons, referring to the former Capital High School star, in a statement released by WVU. “We will not tolerate any form of racism, discrimination or bias on our campus, including our athletic programs.
“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 is correct. It is serious, very serious. And there’s a very good chance it will cost Koenning his job.
That’s the lay of the land in the sporting world these days. Bear Bryant isn’t coaching anymore. Neither is Woody Hayes, Darrell Royal, Bud Wilkinson, John McKay, Joe Paterno or Bobby Bowden.
Society was different in their day. Then, it was all about toughness. Physical toughness, personal toughness, mental toughness and, yes, a whole lot of tough talking.
In those days, football coaches didn’t give a rat’s behind about inappropriate language or actions. A player either got tough or he got going.
This is a brave new coaching world punctuated with more civility, appropriateness and tolerance.
The old-school coaches wouldn’t recognize it, or be able to function and survive in it.
The cultural differences have caught up.
It’s not all right for Koenning to give Martin a religious book or read him scriptures from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Bible, as Martin alleged on his Twitter account on Tuesday.
There’s a word for that.
It’s called harassment.
If Martin wants to be a Methodist or a Muslim, it’s his inalienable right to do so without being subjected to any religious intolerance.
The controversy prompted WVU second-year head coach Neal Brown to write an open letter to the public.
“Mountaineer Family, I come to you tonight sick about today’s events,” wrote Brown on Tuesday evening. “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.
“I care deeply about everyone involved and have waited to speak publicly so that I could first speak with Kerry, Vic, the team, and our administration.
“After speaking with Kerry, I took immediate action. Along with Shane and his team, we launched an independent investigation. I spoke with all parties involved, the defense as a unit and the team as a whole.
“I again emphasized to our team that our program culture will be one of acceptance, respect, tolerance and positive relationships. I stressed to our team and staff that we will be open and transparent throughout the University process.
“I will refrain from further conversation or comment about these issues until the University process is complete. I ask everyone to be patient as we work through this process as quickly as possible. We will listen, learn and grow from this together, as a family, to become even more united.”
Thank goodness WVU possesses the leadership to counteract such problems with promptness and social consciousness.
It’s very encouraging.