The football players at Minnesota State-Mankato refuse to practice for Todd Hoffner as he tried to return to a job he was fired from after being falsely accused of child pornography. The team wants Aaron Keen to remain head coach.
In 2012, an IT professional confiscated Hoffner’s phone because of certain photos and videos on it. He was immediately arrested, but it turned out the images depicted Hoffner’s children taking a bath. Charges were dropped and he took a job at Minot State.
However, an arbitrator ruled he was wrongfully terminated and MSU had to rename him as their head coach. But the players grew close to Keen and won 24 of the 26 games with him at the helm.
MSU Mankato player Sam Thompson read statement – team won’t practice, because players prefer Coach Keen to Hoffner pic.twitter.com/zSdpVKl5JH
– John Croman (@JohnCroman) April 16, 2014
Junior safety Samuel Thompson read a statement from the team:
“As a collective unit, we’ve all agreed that we will stick together and show our support in having Aaron Keen as the head football coach at Minnesota State University, Mankato,” junior safety Samuel Thompson read from the statement. “We’ve all become outstanding community members, students and athletes, in the last year and a half since the removal of Todd Hoffner. Throughout this process, our voice has been silent. It is time our voice is heard. We want information, we want answers, because this is our team.”
Hoffner and boosters are shocked by the players strike.
“This whole thing has been fumbled by the administration,” said Steve Woehrle, a retired MSU accounting professor. The administration “botched it” when it fired Hoffner, then botched it again when he returned, he said. The athletic director, coaching staff and the players should have met before Wednesday’s aborted practice to discuss Hoffner’s return, Woehrle said.
However, it is Hoffner’s wife, Melodee, who voiced support and understanding towards the players.
“You have to remember that these are young kids and they’re confused. They’re angry, and they don’t understand how my husband has been treated by the university,” she said. “They were told that Aaron Keen would be their head coach for so long, and now that’s not the case.”
The new recruits on the team “have never even met my husband,” she said. “They don’t know him. My husband is consistent and fair and he does hold his players to a very high standard and it doesn’t matter if you’re the best player on the team or you don’t have as much talent. His expectations are high for all the players. He can be tough but his intention is always to make the players better people and better players.”
Hopefully, the situation can be resolved soon. Remember: Innocent until proven guilty.