Ethics office says UConn violated nepotism policy by hiring Randy Edsall's son

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Randy Edsall was hired as UConn’s head coach on Dec. 28. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Randy Edsall was hired as UConn’s head coach on Dec. 28. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Randy Edsall violated Connecticut state ethics policies when he hired his son as an assistant on his staff at UConn, the state’s ethics office wrote in a draft ruling.

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After he was brought back to the school in December, Edsall hired his son Corey to coach the Huskies’ tight ends. According to the Hartford Courant, the ethics office concluded that decision is in violation of the state’s laws on nepotism. Also at issue was Randy’s involvement in the negotiation of Corey Edsall’s $95,000 salary.

Because of the proximity to the season, the state’s ethics board recommended not taking any action against Randy Edsall or the school, provided Corey’s one-year contract is not re-upped after the season.

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In a statement, UConn said it “respectfully disagrees” with the draft ruling. The school argued that claims of nepotism do not fit because Corey would be under the supervision of offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee and athletic director David Benedict, not his father. The ethics office characterized that notion as “absurd.”

UConn also repeatedly leaned on the date Randy Edsall officially became an employee. The school argued his first day was Jan. 3, not Dec. 28, when he signed his contract.

From the Courant:

The university said Edsall wasn’t a state employee when he became involved in the details of his son’s contract, and said nepotism doesn’t apply because Corey Edsall would be supervised by the offensive coordinator and the athletic director or a designee, not his father.

The draft opinion said it would be “absurd” to believe Randy Edsall would not be his son’s boss. The opinion notes that it isn’t unusual across the country 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.

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The older Edsall was UConn’s head coach from 1999 to 2010, but left after the 2010 Fiesta Bowl to take the same job at Maryland. Edsall was fired by Maryland midway through the 2015 season. He worked for the Detroit Lions in 2016 before finding his way back to Storrs after the school fired of Bob Diaco.

Corey Edsall, 24, was a student assistant under his father at Maryland from 2012-14, was an intern at Colorado in 2015 and a graduate assistant for the Buffs in 2016. He also had a pair of NFL scouting internships, working training camp for the New England Patriots in 2013 and the Philadelphia Eagles in 2014.

His job at UConn is his first full-time assistant coaching role. Based on emails included in the ethics office’s opinion, he did not go through a typical hiring process.

From the Courant:

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. UConn ultimately revised Corey Edsall’s salary to $95,000, the draft opinion states.

On top of that, the opinion says UConn’s compliance office even called the state ethics office and presented a hypothetical scenario — without mentioning the Edsalls — where a potential hire requested a position for “immediate family.” Later, the ethics office learned of Corey Edsall’s hire by reading about it in the Hartford Courant.

From the Courant:

According to the draft ruling, UConn’s director of compliance, Kimberly Fearney, contacted the state ethics office to get an opinion on the hiring of Corey Edsall, but did so using a “hypothetical” situation without saying Randy Edsall and his son were involved.

“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.

UConn argued that the state ethics office “confirmed it does not prohibit a candidate from negotiating employment for a family member as a condition of their own employment” before Edsall was offered the job.

Coaches hiring family members for their staff is nothing new in college football. The state’s ruling acknowledges as much, saying it is often done under the guise of “special permission.”

But nepotism like this extends well beyond the world of college football. Corey Edsall maybe isn’t as qualified as other coaching candidates out there, but is it wrong for his father to hire him?

Maybe it is Randy’s involvement in the contract “negotiation” that the ethics office is more hung up on, though a $95,000 salary isn’t much among Division I coaches. Nonetheless, the issue will be presented and argued further on July 20. UConn will certainly present its side. If it doesn’t go the school’s way, appeals could follow.

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!