UConn football assistant Corey Edsall will coach the Huskies for the 2017 season but then will need to vacate his position after the state of Connecticut’s office of ethics determined his father Randy, announced as head coach on December 28, improperly arranged for his son’s job and negotiated terms on his behalf.
Communications between Randy and UConn Athletics Assistant AD Beth Goetz took place on January 1 regarding Corey’s role, which was stipulated in the head coach’s contract.
Edsall and UConn contend he started on January 3rd, which may make the arrangement okay, but the ethics office feels otherwise.
From the Hartford Courant report:
“The opinion notes that it isn't unusual across the county for sons to coach in their father's major-college football programs, but states that Connecticut isn't willing to overlook the nepotism clause in the state ethics code to allow that to happen in this instance.
The draft opinion rejects UConn's assertions that it was proper for Randy Edsall to negotiate details of the job for his son, concluding that Edsall was a state employee on Dec. 28, the date he and UConn executed his contract. Edsall's renewed relationship with UConn began when he received and accepted the offer, the ethics lawyers found.”
Emails between Beth Goetz and Randy Edsall provided evidence to this claim:
“Beth Goetz, the COO for the UConn Athletic Department, emailed Randy Edsall on Jan. 1 asking for information needed to write an offer letter to Corey Edsall, including Corey Edsall's start date, salary, position and whether UConn would pay moving expenses and provide temporary housing, the opinion states.
On the same day, Randy Edsall wrote back to Goetz, who forwarded the email to Benedict:
"Corey will start on Monday, January 9th and I would like to pay him $100,000.00."
Randy Edsall also wrote that his son would be coaching "one of the skilled positions on offense."
"If it has to be specific right now, it would be Tight Ends. Could change, but don't think so," Edsall wrote.”
Randy Edsall also told Goetz that UConn should pay Corey Edsall's moving expenses.
Perhaps most damningly, it appears UConn misled the ethics office about the situation, as they didn’t find out about Corey’s hiring until reading it in the newspaper.
“UConn's director of compliance, Kimberly Fearney, had contacted the state ethics office to get an opinion on the hiring of Corey Edsall, the draft ruling states, but she did so under the premise that the hiring was "hypothetical" and without indicating that the case involved Randy Edsall and his son.
Fearney presented a generic scenario to the ethics office.
"The university is recruiting a candidate for a position. As part of the negotiations, one of the conditions sought is a position [for the candidate's] immediate family," Fearney's request for an opinion began.
The ethics office legal division did not learn that UConn had hired Corey Edsall until reading it in The Hartford Courant on Jan. 9.
Subsequently, Fearney told the ethics office that "initial decisions" regarding Corey Edsall's salary, as well as his supervision and job evaluations, would be "dictated by the Director of Athletics or his designee" — who was "not subordinate" to the head coach.”
Their statement went on to offer some strongly worded language regarding the current arrangement:
"UConn's assertion that its Head Football Coach will refrain from supervising (and evaluating) not just the tight ends coach, but also his offensive coordinator is, to quote a former Supreme Court Justice, 'so absurd as to be self-refuting,'" the opinion states.
The draft ruling notes that it is common for football coaches at major colleges to employ their sons on their staffs but that many of those coaches have said they were given "special permission."
"We don't have the statutory authority to grant such "special permission" in this instance, nor do we have the inclination to participate in what amounts to a 'wink-and-a-smile' at the Code's conflict rules," the draft ruling states.
I imagine UConn will try to appeal this decision as Corey’s forced departure, even if delayed for a season, would have a negative impact on the football team and recruiting. UConn and Randy Edsall do appear to have made some mistakes here, but certainly not to the detriment of the state of Connecticut or its people, in my opinion.