College football players boycott practice over reinstated coach

Sam Scorzo Contributor
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So what does a university do when players boycott the coach that sued and won his position?

Todd Hoffner served as the head coach of the Minnesota State-Mankato football team before he was fired over a child pornography accusation in 2012, a month after the Jerry Sandusky scandal was revealed.

Hoffner was accused of possessing child pornography after an MSU IT professor repaired his phone and found he had three videos of naked children.

However, Hoffner claimed that the entire situation was a misunderstanding because the videos were of his own children just having fun after a bath. The ensuing case and all charges were eventually dropped and the university apologized.

“The videos under consideration here contain nude images of Defendant’s minor children dancing and acting playful after a bath. That is all they contain,” Judge Kirsta Jass wrote in her ruling.

In January, Hoffner took a head coaching position at Minot State in North Dakota, but he left the position on Tuesday when an arbitrator ruled that Minnesota State-Mankato must reinstate him because he was wrongfully terminated.

During a news conference, Hoffner said the last two years have been a “nightmare,” but that he always wanted to coach at MSU and that he believes resuming his “duties as head football coach will help heal that injury.”

But the football players don’t want him back.

When he marched onto the field on Wednesday accompanied by MSU Athletic Director Kevin Buisman, who had previously escorted him off the field two years ago, Hoffner was met with his players lined up donning sweats and street clothes rather than geared up in their football uniforms.

Junior safety Sam Thompson read a statement to the newly reinstated Hoffner: “Throughout this process, our voice has been silenced. It’s time our voice was heard. We want information, we want answers, because this is our team. As a unit we have decided not to practice because of the changeup in the coaching situation.”

The team saw significant success in the two seasons that Hoffner was absent. The program’s interim head coach, Aaron Keen, led the team to an 11-1 season this fall, and he was even able to coach the team to the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament.

The university is meeting Thursday with the players and coaching staff to discuss what happens next.

Sam Scorzo