Another player has decided to leave the Eastern Kentucky University football program because of concerns about the school's handling of COVID-19 safety precautions.
Tre Turner, a redshirt junior defensive lineman from Huntersville, N.C., announced his decision to the coaching staff on Thursday.
He is the third player in less than than 48 hours to leave the program.
The departures began on Tuesday night when redshirt junior kicker Landon White posted a scathing Instagram post in which he accused the staff — in particular head coach Walt Wells — of a lack of concern with the players' safety while in the middle of a global pandemic.
"There is little or no testing, (last team test was July 6)," White states in the post. "Symptomatic players are 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. We started fall camp on Friday, July 31. We have plenty of players and staff test positive over the past month."
A day later, Graham Ashkettle — an All-Ohio Valley Conference offensive lineman — announced on social media his decision to leave the program.
“This is what is best to both protect my family and my own future,” Ashkettle said. “I was not completely comfortable with the adherence to the COVID-19 measures at EKU and I expressed those to head coach (Walt) Wells when I met him.”
Ashkettle, who is from Crestwood, Ky., is set to graduate this spring. He is majoring in chemistry.
On Wednesday prior to practice, a group of wide receivers went to Wells to express their growing concerns about the lack of testing.
Many of them did not attend practice that afternoon.
Turner has been a big part of the EKU defense the past two seasons.
He played in all 12 games in 2019 with six starts. The redshirt junior had 34 tackles, 4.5 tackles-for-loss, a sack and also recovered a fumble.
Turner also played in 11 games in 2018, recording 3.5 tackles-for-loss, 1.5 sacks, three quarterback hurries, while forcing two fumbles and recovering a fumble.
The defensive lineman has not yet made a public statement about his decision, but on Thursday afternoon he liked a tweet posted by The Register about his departure from the team.
EKU released a statement on Wednesday morning — prior to both Ashkettle and Turner's departure — about the situation.
"Eastern Kentucky University Athletics is aware of online statements recently made by a former student-athlete," Roan said in the statement. "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."
First-year EKU coach Walt Wells appeared on the Big Blue Insider on Wednesday night.
He vehemently denied the allegations made by White.
"When you walk into our team meeting room, we have two hand sanitizers as soon as you come in and two as soon as you go out," Wells said. "There's only one way in and one way out. We are eating in the cafeteria by ourselves for the next three days, then we go into exclusive catering for the rest of campus."
The coach also insisted that symptomatic players were not allowed to be around the rest of the team, which White also claimed in his Instagram post.
"We have protocols in place. You don't come here if you have those symptoms. We just have to continue to educate them," Wells said.
The Colonels are set to open the 2020 on Sept. 3 at home against Western Carolina.