The Free Press, Mankato, MN

August 21, 2012

Update: Hoffner faces criminal charges as well as internal MSU investigation

By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Speculation about why Minnesota State University’s football coach was escorted off the field during practice Friday ended Tuesday when he was arrested at his Eagle Lake home.

Todd Hoffner, 46, was booked into the Blue Earth County Jail Tuesday for requested charges related to using minors in a sexual performance and possession of child pornography, said Capt. Rich Murry of the Blue Earth County Sheriff’s Department.

Hoffner was arrested at his home without incident at about 11:45 a.m. while Sheriff’s Department investigators were executing a search warrant.

Murry said he couldn’t comment or elaborate on the requested charges.

Formal charges had not been filed by the Blue Earth County attorney’s office as of Tuesday afternoon. Prosecutors generally have 36 hours, not including the day of arrest, to file criminal charges before being required to release someone from jail.

They could also determine there is not enough evidence to file the requested charges.

A news release from the university said university officials are not aware of any allegations affecting MSU students or others who have participated in football programs at the university.

The law enforcement investigation was initiated by the Mankato Police Department because the original complaint was made there, Murry said. Hoffner’s office is on the campus of Minnesota State University, which is within Mankato city limits.

Sometime Monday the investigation was turned over to Sheriff’s Department detectives. They handle more in-depth investigations for the Eagle Lake Police Department.

“We began investigating yesterday,” Murry said Tuesday afternoon. “Based on information from our initial investigation we executed a search warrant at his residence this (Tuesday) morning.”

The investigation did not originate with the Minnesota Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Murry said. Among other things, the task force identifies Internet sources for child pornography and alerts law enforcement agencies where they suspect those sources are located.

Detectives remained at Hoffner’s house for more than an hour after his arrest. A vehicle at the house was towed from the scene and other evidence was confiscated.

Two complaints have been filed against Hoffner since he has been with the university, said Carol Stallkamp, MSU data practices coordinator and assistant to MSU President Richard Davenport. One personnel complaint was closed with no disciplinary action and another complaint is pending, she said in response to a request for public information about Hoffner’s employment with the university.

Stallkamp also said Hoffner earns an annual salary of about $101,000 along with fringe benefits worth about $31,000. His contract was renewed July 1 for four years. He is currently on paid administrative leave.

The news release from the university said Hoffner has been on leave from his coaching position since Friday. It is unknown how long he will be on leave, said university spokesman Daniel Benson.

“The university’s top priority is ensuring the safety and well being of its students, program participants and the community,” the release said.

On Tuesday afternoon, associate head coach/offensive coordinator Aaron Keen, who has been running the football program since Friday, said he was shocked at the news.

“I don’t think anybody ever really expects anything like this,” he said. “I’ll have to meet with my superiors and  then we’ll be meeting with the team (at 8 a.m.) Wednesday morning.”

Hoffner is in his fifth year as MSU’s head football coach. He led the team to the playoffs in 2008 and 2009 and a share of a conference title in 2011. Hoffner turned around a team that had finished with a record of 4-7 in 2007, leading them to a 9-3 record in 2008.

He was named Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference coach of the year in 2009. Two of his players have earned invitations to NFL training camps.

Before taking over at MSU, Hoffner was the offensive coordinator at the University of South Dakota.

Sports Editor Jim Rueda contributed to this story