MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — A day after refusing to practice for reinstated coach Todd Hoffner, football players at Minnesota State, Mankato, are now united behind Hoffner as their coach, a player said Thursday.
"We're going to move forward with Todd Hoffner as head coach," senior player Darius Clare told KEYC-TV (http://bit.ly/QhtJE0 ) after a nearly two-hour closed-door meeting between the players and coaching staff Thursday morning.
The football program planned a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Hoffner returned to campus for the first time Wednesday since the arbitrator ruled he was fired unfairly last year in the wake of a child porn investigation that ultimately cleared him. Tight End Clare hugged Hoffner when he arrived on Wednesday, but later in the day representatives of the team announced that they would refuse to practice for him.
Mavericks players came out for spring practice Wednesday afternoon but were not in uniform. They read a statement saying they were unanimous in wanting Aaron Keen to remain as head coach.
Clare said Thursday's meeting helped bring everyone together.
"He's (Hoffner) the head coach now and we're going to play for him. We're going to play for the other coaches. We're going to play for each other," Clare said.
Under interim coach Keen, Minnesota State finished 11-1 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament. But they were also successful under Hoffner: 34-13 in his four seasons from 2008-12.
Hoffner was arrested in 2012 over images of his naked children on a university-issued cellphone. Though he was eventually cleared by a judge who described the images as innocent video of children acting playful after a bath, the school subsequently suspended, reassigned and fired him for reasons that weren't made public at the time. The arbitrator's report said Hoffner was accused of viewing porn on his work computer and letting his wife use the device, and neither charge was proven.
Hoffner, 47, accepted the head coaching job at Minot State University in January, and the arbitrator's order that he be reinstated forced him to choose. He said Tuesday he would go back to Mankato, saying it would "help heal that injury."
Information from: KEYC-TV, http://www.keyc.tv