A virtual war of words has developed between a former Eastern Kentucky University football player and one of the most powerful administrators at the school.
Landon White, a redshirt junior, announced he was leaving the team team on Tuesday in an Instagram post. He cited what he considered a lack of concern about player safety during the COVID-19 pandemic by the coaching staff.
White has not made himself available to the media.
He did, however, post another statement to Instagram on Thursday evening.
"First, I would like to thank the hundreds of people and players who have reached out to me from all over the country and in the college football world to offer me comfort and encouragement for posting my honest assessment of the program I love at Eastern Kentucky University," White said.
The former kicker made new allegations in the post, including that he went to his position coach with his concerns — and was not taken seriously.
"I was given about two-three minutes to talk about the situation," White said of the meeting. "I told him I was uncomfortable with the COVID-19 protocols and felt I should not be there for the health of me, my family or my teammates. The reaction was very nonchalant and ended with him saying "I'll run it up the chain of command.
No one offered me any assistance. No one said, here are your options."
At 12:15 a.m. Friday, Roan issued a statement in response in those accusations.
"I first became aware of Mr. White’s concerns upon receipt of his Instagram post Tuesday evening," Roan said in the statement. "At that point, I immediately invited the university to begin an independent, comprehensive review of our compliance. In order to protect the legitimacy of that review and final report, I am unable to contact Mr. White, and I have directed head coach Walt Wells do the same. I wish these concerns had been brought to each of us directly, prior to the post."
White confirms in his post that the EKU AD and Wells have not reached out to him at any point.
"No call from the athletic director to help me with my COVID-19 questions or any explanation. Not a single word except a statement defending coaches and their negligence."
Roan says in his statement he met and spoke directly with the football, men's basketball and volleyball teams and had planned to meet with the soccer team on Friday morning.
"I let them know that I was concerned by the possibility of non-compliance with our protocols, and also reminded them that my door is always open to discuss their welfare, their academic success and life goals. I also told them that I appreciate the seriousness of this pandemic, the personal nature of it, reminded them of the role of personal responsibility, and was very clear that our entire department, including every head coach, would completely respect and accommodate any individual decision to choose to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. A few individuals have chosen to opt out the past few days. Many others in every fall sport who have spoken to me directly or indirectly have expressed a strong desire to continue forward and play. As an organization, it is our intent to do just that and provide them the best environment possible to succeed."
White left the program on Tuesday night.
Others have followed him.
All-Ohio Valley Conference offensive lineman Graham Ashkettle announced his departure on Instagram on Wednesday night, citing COVID-19 concerns.
Starting defensive lineman Tre Turner (a redshirt junior) stepped away on Thursday and redshirt senior defensive lineman Dillon Denault has reportedly left as well.
"I am glad that my brothers and I are doing what's in their best interest as well as everybody around them," White stated on Thursday night. "This is way deeper than a game. I love my hometown, my school and my professors. I want everyone to be healthy and the school to be successful."
White once again voiced his concern about safety in his most recent post, claiming the team had not been tested since July 6.
Roan seems to verify that in his statement.
"Testing for our entire football team was originally scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 4," Roan stated. "However, due to the possibility that the NCAA Board of Governors could have canceled fall championships during their meeting that day, the decision was made to reschedule the testing. Full testing will be conducted on Wednesday, Aug. 12. The football team will be tested each Wednesday after that based on NCAA resocialization guidelines. I appreciate our staff’s commitment and perseverance in securing testing despite occasional obstacles."
Roan concluded by saying the school is taking White's accusations seriously.
"The alleged non-compliance will be examined line-by-line, all of the facts will be revealed in full and appropriate action will be taken," Roan said.
EKU is set to open the 2020 on Sept. 3 at home against Western Carolina.