The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

May 2, 2014

Keen leaves MSU for Division I job

Former head coach said it's bittersweet to leave players

MANKATO — Aaron Keen wants to be a head coach again, but that wasn't going to happen at Minnesota State.

He could have coached here another season as the offensive coordinator, but a Division I offer, with a couple of old friends, was too good to pass up.

"It's an opportunity that came up, and I thought it was a tremendous fit for me," Keen said. "It's a chance for me to grow as a coach, and I think I can have an impact on that program."

Keen has accepted the job as special teams coordinator and tight ends coach at Eastern Michigan, a Division I program that competes in the Mid-America Conference. Keen coached with Eastern Michigan defensive coordinator Brad McCaslin and linebackers coach Chris Simpson when the three were at Nebraska-Omaha.

Keen had been at Minnesota State only one season when Todd Hoffner was suspended before the 2012 season and fired the following May. In April, an arbitrator ruled that Minnesota State had improperly fired Hoffner and he should be allowed to take his job back.

Hoffner, who had accepted the head-coaching job at Minot State in January, decided to return to Minnesota State two weeks ago.

Keen's teams posted a 24-2 record with two appearances in the national tournament during the last two seasons.

He announced that he was leaving at a players meeting Friday afternoon. The players held a one-day protest two weeks ago, in part because they thought Keen might get forced out when former head coach Todd Hoffner was reinstated.

"These players aren't just commodities, they're like my family," Keen said. "I wanted to communicate with them, and I hope they understand where I'm coming from.

"In the end, this was a decision I had to make, not just for me but for my family. And I think it will be best for the players, in the long run. They'll continue to have a chance to compete for and win a national championship at Minnesota State."

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