Eastern Kentucky kicker quits over coronavirus: 'Coach and some staff, do not care about player safety'
In a social media post containing explosive allegations, Eastern Kentucky University kicker Landon White said he had left the football team as coaches have failed to prioritize the health of athletes amid the coronavirus pandemic.
White announced he would be leaving the team Tuesday evening in a lengthy Instagram post because "the coach and some staff, do not care about player safety."
The team has continued to practice on days where some players had shown coronavirus symptoms, White wrote, though no team tests had occurred in nearly a month. Players have also been in close contact with one another at dining halls and other meeting rooms, White alleged.
"This is a tough day for me, but somebody has gotta tell the truth on what us athletes are going through during this pandemic," wrote White.
White and a spokesman for the Eastern Kentucky football program did not immediately respond to requests for comment Wednesday morning. White was still listed as a member of the EKU football program's online roster early Wednesday but appeared to be removed about 8:30 a.m.
The head coach of the Colonels is Walt Wells. He was hired by Eastern Kentucky in December after spending the previous two seasons as a quality control assistant at Kentucky. He'd also spent time in the past as an assistant coach at Eastern Kentucky, South Florida, Western Kentucky (he spent 10 years with the Hilltoppers) and Cumberland University in Tennessee.
White's post claimed the last Eastern Kentucky team test took place on July 6 and that symptomatic players have still been at practice and in team facilities around teammates. A number of players and staff members have tested positive, he said, but team activities have not been suspended and meetings with more than 100 team members have continued to take place.
Eastern Kentucky football players have continued to eat at the university's Case Dining Hall, he said, which has put other students as well as cafeteria staff at risk.
White wrote that Wells cares more about the payout Eastern Kentucky will receive by playing West Virginia University in a game at WVU on Sept. 12. The Colonels will receive $450,000 to playing that game, and Eastern Kentucky athletic director Matt Roan recently described that money as "significant."
"That $450,000 supports not only our football program, it really supports our entire athletics enterprise," Roan told The Richmond Register in July. "The effects of losing a game like that would be felt across the board."
White, who said he took the health of his extended family into account when making his decision, said Wells is aware of the situation at EKU.
"The Head Coach knows and the Head Coach does nothing," he wrote. "The Head Coach does not care about his players safety as well as his staff and their families."
Follow Lucas Aulbach on Twitter: @LucasAulbach.