Arbitrator says Mankato football coach wrongfully terminated - KMSP-TV

Todd Hoffner to coach football again at MSU-Mankato

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MANKATO, Minn. (KMSP) -

Todd Hoffner, the former Minnesota State University, Mankato head football coach, says he intends to return to coach football for the Mavericks tomorrow.

An arbitrator ruled last week that Hoffner was wrongly fired and ordered the school to reinstate him with back pay. In January, Hoffner was hired as head coach at Minot State University.

"I'm eager to return to the game and the program that I helped build," Hoffner said, holding back tears. "This is what I wanted from day one, and now I have that opportunity to go back, and I believe it is the right thing to do."

APOLOGY, WELCOME BACK

MSU apologized to Hoffner in a statement, and welcomed the coach back to work.

"We have learned that Mr. Hoffner intends to return to Minnesota State Mankato tomorrow and we welcome him back to his position as head football coach," the university said. "This has been a difficult journey for all involved. We extend our apologies to Mr. Hoffner and deeply regret the difficulties he and his family have experienced this past year and a half. It is our sincere hope that all concerned can now find ways to move forward for the sake of the Hoffner family, student athletes, the university, and the community."

GRATEFUL TO MINOT STATE

Hoffner said he'd remain grateful to Minot State, but he'll be leaving the program before coaching a game there. He thanked Minot State for its willingness to take a chance on him, and wished their program "every bit of success" in the future.

"Despite the past two years, we know Minnesota State University is a great place. We love the Mankato community and want to be part of this university and the city," he said.

SHOCK, FEAR, ANGER

Hoffner thanked his lawyers and the many football players, coaches and colleagues who reached out to him and offered their unwavering support.

"Two years ago, I sat in a jail cell overnight in an orange jumpsuit wondering, 'Why?' First there was shock, then there was fear, then there was anger and ultimately I pulled myself together to work towards a result, and that's where we are today," he recounted.

"I intend to resume my duties tomorrow at Minnesota State University-Mankato and Mavericks football," he said in closing.

THE FIRING

The Fox 9 Investigators obtained a copy of the arbitrator's 72-page ruling that sheds light on why the school fired him in the first place.

Hoffner was fired last May after he had been cleared of pornography charges. Prosecutors said Hoffner took cell phone videos of his children performing suggestive acts while naked. Hoffner said the videos were just "innocent family moments." Blue Earth County District Court Judge Krista Jass dismissed the case for lack of probable cause.

Hoffner was still placed on a 20-day suspension for allegedly misusing a school-issued cell phone that contained images of a man climbing into a pool, but the arbitrator ruled the photos were "benign," "did not constitute misconduct," and therefore an invalid reason for suspension.

Ultimately, the school fired Hoffner claiming he had used a school laptop to access porn, but the arbitrator wrote "none of it was attributable to Hoffner's usage." A computer analyst a high school student was also issued the same laptop and may have been the one that accessed the porn.

The arbitrator also discounted Mankato's accusation that Hoffner had let his kids into the locker room while players were undressing.

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