Following a meeting Thursday morning with the coaching staff and school officials, Minnesota State Mankato players say they'll return to practice Friday after walking out on Wednesday's practice.
The players boycotted practice after Todd Hoffner took his job back as head coach. Hoffner was suspended in August 2012 and dismissed in May 2013 but elected to return Tueday after an arbitrator said he was wrongfully terminated.
At a news conference Thursday afternoon, the players said their boycott wasn't done in an attempt to subvert Hoffner's return. Interim coach Aaron Keen went 24-2 in two years during Hoffner's absence and is still on the staff.
"We wanted our voice to be heard yesterday about our support for Aaron Keen and for our desire for a more robust communication channel be opened between the players, Coach Hoffner and the administration about the coaching situation,’’ safety Sam Thompson and wide receiver Kyle Riggott said in a statement (via the Minneapolis Star Tribune). “We stand behind our actions and statement made, but in no way did we want our actions to undermine Coach Hoffner’s return."
Hoffner said he didn't take his players' actions personally.
He was suspended after a video of his children naked and playing around was found on his phone. Hoffner was also charged with possession of child pornography in August 2012, but the charges were dropped three months later.
Minot State hired Hoffner to be its coach in January, and at the time, Hoffner said he was grateful for the second chance. After the arbitrator's ruling last week, Hoffner resigned his position at Minot State to return to Minnesota State.
Minot State's sports information director told the Star-Tribune that Hoffner was asked about the possibility of returning to Mankato during his hiring process.
He was asked at least once, if not multiple times, about going back there. He said he was committed to us 100 percent,” said Michael Linnell said. “He was here 95 percent of the time” after getting the job. But “he was living with somebody that he knew. He did not buy or rent a place that I know of.”
Linnell added that the school was also frustrated with what had happened. Minot State was 2-9 last season. Hoffner was making approximately $15,000 more at Minnesota State than he was set to make at Minot State.
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