UConn assistant football coach Ernest Jones has resigned from his position effective immediately, the university announced Monday. Neither the school nor the division of athletics will comment further on the matter because it is "personnel related."
Last month, shortly after new coach Bob Diaco had assembled his staff, Jones, who also doubled as director of player engagement, found himself at the center of a controversy after invoking religion as part of his duties.
"We develop [players] socially, intellectually, spiritually, physically," Jones told the Hartford Courant at the time. ... "And we're going to do things in our building, fellowship, non-denominational type things, players, coaches. We're going to make sure they understand that Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle, that that's something that is important. If you want to be successful and you want to win, get championships then you better understand that this didn't happen because of you. This happened because of our Lord and Savior. That's going to be something said by Bob Diaco. That's something that's going to be said by Ernest Jones. That's who we are."
This was an issue because UConn is a publicly funded university. Jones' words prompted this response from university president Susan Herbst.
"Employees can't appear to endorse or advocate for a particular religion or spiritual philosophy as part of their work or in their interactions with students."
Herbst also explained the university's position in a letter published in the Courant:
"At public universities we value everyone in our community, and treat each person with the same degree of respect, regardless of who they are, what their background is, or what their beliefs may be," Herbst wrote. "Every student, including student-athletes, must know they are accepted and welcomed at UConn. Always. Our staff should educate and guide students, to ensure they are well-prepared for life at UConn and beyond. But it should go without saying that our employees cannot appear to endorse or advocate for a particular religion or spiritual philosophy as part of their work at the university, or in their interactions with our students. This applies to work-related activity anywhere on or off campus, including on the football field. Our athletic director and Coach Diaco agree wholeheartedly with me, and have made this clear to their staff."
Diaco told the Courant that he was surprised by Jones' decision, saying that "it is entirely family and personally related.”