West Virginia safety Kerry Martin Jr. opts out over health concerns

West Virginia safety Kerry Martin Jr. said he will sit out the football season because of health concerns, he announced via social media on Wednesday.

Martin, who ranked sixth on the team in tackles as a freshman last season, said he has sickle cell and asthma.

"I signed my [national letter of intent] to this university to become a great football player and leave as a better man as well as having a better understanding about life, and to pursue my professional dream, but not to play during a worldwide pandemic," he wrote. "I don't feel that it is safe to play while there's a virus that we have no forms of a cure or know the long term effects of the virus as many athletes are currently having heart and other respiratory problems."

In June, Martin went public about alleged mistreatment by defensive coordinator Vic Koenning, saying that the veteran coach called him "retarded" during a team workout and made inappropriate comments about religion, politics and the recent protests of racism and police brutality. Koenning, who apologized to Martin, was placed on leave and later agreed to a mutual separation from the university.

On Wednesday, UConn became the first FBS school to cancel its season because of the coronavirus pandemic. In a statement, the school said, "The safety challenges created by COVID-19 place our football student-athletes at an unacceptable level of risk."

During the past week, a number of football players have announced their intention to opt out of the season. On Tuesday, Minnesota receiver and potential first-round pick Rashod Bateman said he would be skipping the season to prepare for the draft. That same day Vanderbilt kicker Oren Milstein opted out, citing the ethics of playing football during a pandemic.

On Monday, the Big 12 announced that it would start its season "sometime between mid- to late-September" and would consist of nine conference games and one non-conference game to be played at home.

In his announcement, Martin said he plans to return to the team next season as a redshirt sophomore "a much more dynamic player."