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UConn football State ethics board drops appeal of Edsall nepotism ruling

March 25, 2019

The Office of State Ethics’ Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board has withdrawn its appeal of a Super Court decision to allow the son of UConn football coach Randy Edsall to remains as an assistant coach.

Superior Court Judge Joseph Shortall ruled in November that UConn did not violate the state’s ban on nepotism when Corey Edsall was hired to work as tight ends coach. The Ethics Advisory Board original ruling would have force Corey Edsall to leave his position in January.

The ethics board initially appealed the ruling.

But a statement issued Monday by the Office of State Ethics said the Board voted 8-0 at its March 21 meeting to withdraw its suit, “citing changes to the Code of Ethics in Public Act 18-175 that exempted the entire state higher education system from Code of Ethics provisions regarding nepotism.”

In June, state lawmakers passed Public Act 18-175 — which focused on data management and public access to data. But the Hartford Courant reported the bill included a paragraph that seemed to address Edsall’s situation: “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.”

The ethics board found in 2017 that Corey Edsall’s presence on his father’s coaching staff violated state nepotism laws because Randy Edsall would be his son’s superior.

The statement from the Office of State Ethics Monday notes, “Since 1994, state ethics rulings have made clear that supervision of one family member by another is prohibited by the Code of Ethics. A 2018 amendment to the Code, Public Act 18-175, turned that on its head, in order to allow the coaching arrangement, which the Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board ruled was impermissible in July 2017.”

The statement also said the Ethics Advisory Board will seek legislative change to the Code of Ethics.

“It is clear - and unfortunate - that Public Act 18-175, while designed to address a singular situation, opens the door to nepotism not just in the football program but throughout Connecticut state universities and community colleges,” Citizen’s Ethics Advisory Board Chair Dena Castricone said in the statement. “In light of the Public Act, the ruling by Superior Court Judge Joseph M. Shortall is unlikely to be overturned, and raises questions about the application of these provisions across all branches of government. The Board encourages the General Assembly to amend Public Act 18-175 to ensure that nepotism will not be tolerated in Connecticut state government.”

paul.doyle@hearstmedia.com; @pauldoyle1