When new Minnesota State-Mankato coach Todd Hoffner arrived at practice on Wednesday, it turned out his players wouldn't be joining him. The players, frustrated that interim coach Aaron Keen would no longer be the head coach, decided to boycott practice, as reported by USA Today's George Schroeder and others. Schroeder:
Junior defensive back Samuel Thompson read a prepared statement saying the Mavericks players wanted interim coach Aaron Keen to continue in the head coaching role.
"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."
That, in itself, is an interesting story, but the circumstances that have led to this situation are even more fascinating. This is Hoffner's second stint at Minnesota State-Mankato and his first time coaching since 2012, when he was suspended for having nude videos of his kids on his school cell phone.
A look at the timeline:
August 2012: Hoffner was suspended by the school for the video and arrested soon after on child pornography charges. Hoffner's kids were nine, eight, and five, and he claimed there was nothing inappropriate about having the videos.
November 2012: A judge dismissed the charges, saying there was no evidence of child pornography on the phone. However, Hoffner didn't get his job back at the time.
December 2012: The university suspended Hoffner briefly and he did not get his job back. Instead, he was reassigned to a different job within the athletic department, but still fought to get his old job back.
May 2013: Hoffner was fired from his administrative role, and the faculty union fired a grievance on his behalf, combining it with an earlier grievance regarding his suspension and reassignment. He was fired for "allegedly viewing pornography or allowing someone else to view pornography on his university-issued computers."
January 2014: After being fired from Mankato, Hoffner took the head coaching job at North Dakota's Minot State, one of Mankato's conference rivals.
April 2014: After an arbitrator ruled that he had been unfairly fired, and Hoffner announced that he would return to Mankato to take the head coaching job. It appeared to be a storybook ending, until the players decided to boycott due to the decision.
Update: According to USA Today, the Mankato players have decided to end the boycott.
The boycott is over. A day after refusing to practice to protest a coaching change, the Minnesota State-Mankato football players have agreed to accept Todd Hoffner's return as head coach.
They did so after a nearly two-hour meeting Thursday morning with Hoffner, interim coach Aaron Keen and athletics director Kevin Buisman. Hoffner characterized it as a "productive discussion."