The Free Press, Mankato, MN

June 7, 2014

Hoffner review moving slowly

Legislative auditor: Process slower than expected

By Amanda Dyslin
adyslin@mankatofreepress.com

---- — A special review of the events surrounding the termination of Minnesota State University Head Coach Todd Hoffner is still in the preliminary stages due to a heavy case load for the Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor.

James Nobles, legislative auditor, said he's combed through a lot of documents in the Hoffner case since April, when state legislators and MSU President Richard Davenport (through Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System Chancellor Steven Rosenstone) approached him with requests for the review. But progress has been delayed due to his many other current projects, audits and special reviews.

β€œIt's going much more slowly than I had hoped,” Nobles said.

He said in addition to combing through documents related to Hoffner's suspension, termination and eventual reinstatement at MSU, he likely will be bringing in people who were involved in the situation for interviews.

A child pornography investigation began in August 2012 against Hoffner, stemming from videos found of his naked children on his university-issued phone. He was arrested and charged, but the charges were dismissed by a judge in November of that year.

Hoffner did not get his coaching job back, but rather was reassigned to a newly created position in the athletic department and then fired in May 2013. The case went to arbitration, and the arbitrator ruled April 9 that Hoffner should only have received a verbal reprimand and that he should have the option of taking his head coaching job back, as well as other financial stipulations. He returned to MSU shortly after.

Under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act, MSU and MnSCU officials have stated they cannot answer questions to legislators or to the public with regard to what went into their disciplinary decisions about Hoffner. That led legislators β€” especially following the arbitrator's ruling β€” to discuss with each other and with Nobles the need for a review.

Citing public concern about how the Hoffner situation was handled, Davenport also made the same request for a review by Nobles' office through Rosenstone in April.

Nobles wouldn't speculate in April on what in the review would be made public. However, he said a detailed public report would be issued at the conclusion, which would include recommendations for any changes to MnSCU policies or applicable laws.