Minnesota State football players refusing to practice under reinstated coach Todd Hoffner
Hoffner was 34-13 in four seasons as head coach at Mankato, but he was removed from the practice field and arrested in Aug. 2012 after a video of his children playing around naked was found on his cellphone. He was charged with child porn, but the charges were dropped by a judge. Hoffner was still reassigned and eventually fired by Mankato last year.
Hoffner was hired in January by Minot State in North Dakota, but an arbitrator ruled that he was wrongly fired and that he could return to his Mankato job if he wanted to. He decided to return on Tuesday.
“I’m eager to return to the game and the program that I helped build,” Hoffner said Tuesday. “This is what I wanted from Day 1, and now I have the opportunity to go back, and I believe it’s the right thing to do for my family and myself.”
Though Hoffner has been reinstated, there is one big problem: the program has been operating under a different head coach since his 2012 arrest, and they’re refusing to play under Hoffner.
— George Schroeder (@GeorgeSchroeder) April 16, 2014
The MSU Reporter says the members of the football team refused to practice under Hoffner Wednesday and instead read a statement in which they expressed support for previous coach Aaron Keen.
“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 Sam Thompson said in the statement.
Thompson continued: “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, we have been silent, it is time our voice is heard. We want information, we want answers, because this is our team. As a unit we have decided not to practice, because of the change-up in the coaching situation.”
The last line of the statement said that the players want Keen as their head coach. They then stormed off the field, according to the MSU Reporter, which says three players did show up in practice clothes.
Here was a tweet sent by tight end Matt Murphy:
The #MavFam just reminded the world that athletes are players, not property.
— Matt Murphy (@Th3_Contrarian) April 16, 2014
Though Hoffner being reinstated seems like the fair solution, it’s a cumbersome one that is impractical in real life. The players have been working under a different coach to whom they have loyalty. And why should Keen be removed from his job?
We’re too far along in this messy situation to go backwards. Hoffner should probably just stay at Minot State and know that Mankato screwed him over. Going back does not seem like the solution.