UConn, its football coach, Randy Edsall, and his son, Corey Edsall, filed an appeal Friday of a ruling by the state Board of Ethics that Corey Edsall's hiring as an assistant coach violated ethics laws.
The appeals were filed in Superior Court in New Britain. The state Board of Ethics in July voted 8-1 to uphold an advisory opinion that Edsall and UConn violated ethics laws by hiring Corey Edsall as tight ends coach.
In a 17-page appeal, Louis N. George, the lawyer for the Edsalls, listed several reasons for the appeal including that the board's decision "erroneously defines Randy Edsall as a state employee as of Dec. 28, 2016, even though "Mr. Edsall had neither performed any duties as head football coach for UConn, nor had he been compensated for any work prior to Jan. 3, 2017."
UConn is represented by the state attorney general's office in its appeal.
The Board of Ethics instructed the state ethics enforcement division to refrain from prosecuting or filing complaints against Randy Edsall on the matter, and allows Corey Edsall, 24, to serve as coach through the remainder of his one-year, $95,000 contract as long as it is not renewed.
The board contended that Randy Edsall was a state employee at the time he worked toward employment for his son. And as coach, the board concluded, Randy Edsall would be in a position of financial influence over his son, his son's supervisors and even potential competitors on the staff — none of which is permissible.
Several board members said it would be impossible for Randy Edsall not to be Corey's supervisor and in a position of influence, despite UConn's plans to have Corey officially report to, and be reviewed by, other members of the athletic department staff.
The Edsall appeal argues that, in reaching its decision, the board arbitrarily "chose to disregard and/or downplay (a) Dec. 23 informal opinion" that the office of state ethics provided to UConn and for which UConn and Edsall relied upon.
The Edsalls didn't receive a fair and impartial hearing because an unidentified member of the board had previously "received an adverse decision on an employment application to UConn, which tainted his ability to be fair and impartial considering the matter before him," the appeal states.
George didn't say how Edsall or his attorneys came to know that a member of the ethics board had been turned down for a job at UConn. He said the member needed to disclose that fact before the hearing.
George added it was included it in the lawsuit "so that we could explore it further."
A good portion of the ethics board hearing was spent trying to determine on what date Randy Edsall should have been considered a state employee, which is significant because nepotism laws prevent a state employee from negotiating a job on behalf of an immediate family member.
In their filing, the Edsalls argue that Randy Edsall wasn't hired as coach until Jan. 3 and a few weeks before UConn had gone to the ethics board's legal division for an opinion on whether a candidate for a UConn position could negotiate another position at UConn for an immediate family member. UConn didn't mention to the legal division that it was referring to Edsall.
The legal opinion said it wouldn't violate the state of Code of Ethics and that UConn should set up a management system so that the employee doesn't directly report to his family member.
"Randy Edsall made it very clear while negotiating a contract that one of his requests was to have Corey on his staff. UConn looked into that issue and got an advisory opinion from ethics saying it was OK," George said.