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EKU responds after kicker quits team, makes strong allegations against coaching staff

Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 10:36 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 5, 2020 at 2:44 PM EDT
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(WYMT) - An Eastern Kentucky University football player quit the team due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

Landon White, a kicker, and graduate from Madison Central High School took to Instagram to explain his reason for leaving the team.

View this post on Instagram

8-4-20. My last day is finally here. Today I have resigned my position on the Eastern Kentucky University football team as a kicker. Not huge news in the sports world I know but... No matter what you hear the facts are the facts, with the main fact being the coach and some staff, do not care about player safety. I will surely miss my brothers on the field. This is a tough day for me, but somebody has gotta tell the truth on what us athletes are going through during this pandemic. At Eastern Kentucky Football there is little or no testing, (last team test was July 6). Symptomatic players still in the building and around other teammates. But the same day people had symptoms we continued to practice instead of face the issue head on. Keep in mind we started fall camp on Friday July 31st. We have plenty of players and staff test positive over the past month. But you have probably heard very little on the matter. Have y’all heard about us suspending anything? Of course not. There are meeting rooms with 100+ players and staff crammed into it with zero space and no social distancing rules in sight. There are a bunch of potential positives in there. The Player cafeteria (case dining hall) endangers the EKU Cafeteria staff as well as other students who are now on campus, masks are routinely not worn while players are constantly being reminded by the dining hall staff instead of our coaches to keep it on. The Head Coach knows and the Head Coach does nothing. The Head Coach does not care about his players safety as well as his staff and their families. He cares about the 500k we are about to earn by playing WVU in Morgantown at the end of the month. The truth has to be told and I’ll be your guy. I love my teammates as well as my family and I’ll forever cherish the l moments I had with them. With 2 pregnant sisters, 3 nieces and a nephew, and a mom & dad as well as my Grandmother and grandfather I love dearly, I need to protect them at ALL cost. I will not endanger anyones health by continuing to play. This goes for my players family and my family. People need to know what the NCAA and University is really about and it’s not about player safety. #DoTheyReallyCare

A post shared by Landon White (@landon1white) on

Register Sports reported on Wednesday afternoon that a second play, junior offensive lineman Graham Ashkettle has also quit the EKU football team over concerns about COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Athletic Director Matt Roan released a statement on Wednesday afternoon:

“Eastern Kentucky University Athletics is aware of online statements recently made by a former student-athlete. First and foremost, the health, safety and overall well-being of our student-athletes will always be a primary priority. Head Football Coach Walt Wells and I have met continuously to ensure that football operations continue to adhere to local, state and health organization guidelines. We completely agree that egregiously or willfully ignoring safety guidelines, or our established protocol by any of our athletic programs, staff or students is a serious issue and will not be tolerated.

Our programs returned to campus on July 6. In preparation for summer participation, every student-athlete and sport-specific coach and staff member was tested for COVID-19. Furthermore, any student-athlete reporting to campus for activity for the first time in August has been, and will continue to be, required to receive a negative test result prior to their return. To coincide with the recent commencement of preseason practice, weekly testing will be performed consistent with resocialization requirements. When a student-athlete, coach or staff member reports symptoms to EKU Sports Medicine, that individual has been immediately monitored, tested and quarantined, if necessary.

Our staff and coaches take every opportunity to remind student-athletes to practice social distancing – including conducting meetings virtually – wear the proper masks/PPP, practice proper hygiene and to contact EKU Sports Medicine if they are feeling ill.

We continue to learn during this pandemic and our protocols evolve as we learn new information and receive additional guidance from public health professionals. EKU Athletics continues to work in lockstep with University administration, the EKU Office of Public Safety and Risk Management and the Madison County Health Department.”

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