The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

April 16, 2014

Latest: Mankato football players meet Hoffner, say they want Keen back as coach

MANKATO —

The Todd Hoffner case at Minnesota State University experienced another twist Wednesday afternoon when nearly all of the football players refused to take the field for their scheduled spring practice.

Hoffner, the embattled head coach who was again supposed to be in charge of the team Wednesday after a two-year absence, walked onto the field at the 3:30 p.m. start time for practice, said a brief hello to the media and then waited for the team along a field sideline. 

Most of the coaching staff was already on the field when Hoffner and MSU athletic director Kevin Buisman arrived. Aaron Keen, the program's interim head coach for two seasons and now the associated head coach, came over and shook Hoffner's hand and appeared to welcome him back.

A few minutes later, all but three players emerged from the locker room in street clothes and gathered at the entrance to the practice field. Junior safety Samuel Thompson read from a prepared statement saying the team had been silenced through the two-year ordeal and it was time to speak up.

Thompson said the team was unanimous in its wishes that Keen continue as head coach rather than Hoffner. He said the players had become solid members of the community and wanted to express their wishes.

Thompson said the players would have no more comment on the matter. When he finished his statement, he and the team turned around and walked back to the football locker room as a unit.

Buisman followed them and did not comment. Hoffner also walked off the field a short time later without comment.

Keen gave a brief statement as he left the field, saying the arbitrator had made his decision and that Hoffner was again the head coach of the football program. When asked if he was happy coaching at MSU, Keen replied: "Yes, I'm very happy coaching here."

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