The Connecticut Superior Court ruled in favor of UConn football when they stated the University did not violate any ethics laws by hiring Corey Edsall to the football staff.
The State Ethics Board believed that current UConn football coach Randy Edsall violated the state’s nepotism law by hiring his son Corey to be the team’s tight ends coach. However, Judge Joseph Shortell ruled there was no such violation and the State Ethics Board even “abused its discretion.”
“Randy Edsall and the university have followed the direction of the board in [the] Advisory Opinion and even gone beyond what would literally be required by developing the detailed management plan for Corey Edsall,” the ruling stated. “… The university has gone further than the statute requires by placing Corey Edsall under the day-to-day supervision of the offensive coordinator of the football team.”
The State Ethics Board claimed when Randy Edsall signed his letter of intent on Dec. 28, 2016, to become the head coach of the UConn football team, he was a state employee. Therefore, when he started to arrange a job for his son Corey as the tight ends coach a week later, it violated the nepotism law.
The deal was finalized on Jan. 1, two days before Randy Edsall officially started as head coach.
However, Judge Shortell disagreed with the State Ethics Board, stating even though Edsall signed his letter of intent, he was not a state employee until he actually started work.
There is another wrinkle in this case, as in late June a small amendment on a bill was discovered, stating "a state employee who is employed at a constituent unit of the state system of higher education and a member of the immediate family of such state employee may be employed in the same department or division of such constituent unit."
To many, it seemed like it was added specifically to allow the Edsalls to work together. In fact, Democratic Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz even admitted it was added after he discussed the situation with Edsall last fall.
Ethics attorneys, while extremely upset with the legislation, admitted the law did indeed allow Randy and Corey to work together.
They said the law "weakens the Code of Ethics by opening the door to nepotism not just in the football program but throughout Connecticut state universities and community colleges as well as the University of Connecticut."
UConn President Susan Herbst testified at the hearing and afterwards released a statement in support of the ruling.
“The university appealed the board’s ruling because we were confident that UConn carefully followed state statute and well-established management practices in instances such as this,” Herbst said. “We are gratified that the judge unambiguously agreed. We look forward to moving on.”
Jorge Eckardt is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.