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Editorial: University response to Jones’ ‘Jesus in the huddle’ comment was appropriate

Published: Monday, January 27, 2014

Updated: Monday, January 27, 2014 20:01

Recently, UConn assistant football coach Ernest Jones made some controversial comments regarding bringing Jesus into the huddle. In an interview with the Hartford Courant, Jones stated the following.

“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.”

The nature of his comments isn’t surprising considering Jones previously coached at Notre Dame, a private Catholic university where religion was very much incorporated into athletics. However, there is a different culture at a public university such as UConn. Jones’ comments can be seen as favoritism towards a particular religion, which can be an issue considering not all of the athletes may be share the same faith. If certain players practice a different religion or no religion at all, they may feel alienated with a coaching staff emphasizing the importance of Jesus Christ.

The administration appropriately responded by reminding Jones and other UConn employees that they should not be favoring or promoting a certain religion as part of their work at the university or in their interactions with students. There really is no need for disciplinary action as Jones’ comments were rather innocent and due more to transitioning to a public university rather than mal intent.

This isn’t to say that Jones or any other UConn employee or student isn’t entitled to their own personal beliefs. However, as is with the separation of church and state, there is a difference between personal beliefs and the sort of thing Jones was alluding to in his statements. If a UConn player scores a touchdown and then goes down for a moment of prayer, that is perfectly acceptable. However, if he goes down for a moment of prayer because he was told to do so by the coaching staff, that becomes an issue. As the administration has already talked to the athletic director and head coach Bob Diaco, there will hopefully be no future issues.

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