A newly hired assistant football coach has resigned his position at the University of Connecticut one month after igniting controversy with a comment he made about keeping Jesus Christ at the center of his team’s huddle.
The university confirmed coach Ernest Jones’ departure in a statement to TheBlaze Monday, but declined to give a reason for the decision. Jones only started at the university in January.
“University of Connecticut assistant football coach Ernest T. Jones has resigned his position at UConn effective immediately,” the statement said. “The University or the Division of Athletics will have no further comment on the matter as it is personnel related.”
As WFSB-TV reported, Jones made headlines after saying that it was important for players to understand that “Jesus Christ should be in the center of our huddle.” His comments were made during an interview with The Hartford Courant newspaper.
“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,” he said in the interview. “This happened because of our lord and savior. That’s going to be something said by [head coach] Bob Diaco. That’s something that’s going to be said by Ernest Jones. That’s who we are.”
Watch Jones speak about his position at UConn prior to his resignation:
Jones’ comments prompted university president Susan Herbst to issue a statement to the Courant, saying staff members at the public university must not take sides on the theological front.
“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,” she said. “This applies to work-related activity anywhere on or off campus, including on the football field.”
See Jones speak about student development prior to his resignation:
It’s unclear whether Jones, who left his previous position as director of player development and engagement position at Notre Dame, resigned as a result of the controversy. Diaco, the head coach, told the Courant on Monday that Jones’ departure was “entirely family and personally related.”
Diaco called the timing of the resignation “coincidental.”
“It all was a shock, absolutely. He took his time and deeply reflected,” he said. “He took a week and deeply reflected with his family to make a decision for him and his family to resign his position here and focus on private family matters and pursue other opportunities that facilitate and suit his family.”
Featured image via UConn Huskies/YouTube