Mankato players refusing to play for coach

It didn’t take long for the soap opera to begin in Mankato, where former coach Todd Hoffner began his second term as coach of the team today.

Hoffner yesterday announced he was reclaiming his job, nearly two years after Minnesota State Mankato suspended and then fired him after his arrest on charges stemming from cellphone photos he took of his kids at bath time.

The team was to hold its spring practice this afternoon.

Instead, players refused to suit up and said they want interim coach Aaron Keen to keep the job he got after Hoffner’s firing, according to the Mankato Free Press.

“”We want information. We want answers. We’ve decided not to practice because of a change-up in the coaching situation,” the players said.

“Throughout this process, our voice has been silenced. It’s time our voice was heard,” junior safety Sam Thompson said.

Only three players showed up in regular practice clothing, the school’s newspaper, The Reporter, said.

Hoffner wouldn’t comment.

  • Looks like the rec league football games are going to become a lot more competitive at MSU Mankato.

    • Are any of those kids on football scholarship?

      • Brian

        Not for much longer….

  • John Peschken

    I do not think I will ever quite understand Hoffner’s desire to return to Mankato. Is it personal, family or neighborhood connections? It just can’t be that he really wants to return to the school, can it?

    • It appears to be family. His children and wife were still in Mankato.

      Mankato also paid better.

      • Although the arbitrator’s decision also ordered Mankato to make up the difference in salary. I presume that would have been for the length of his contract.

    • DavidG

      Mankato is a bit more prestigious than Minot, so there’s that. Otherwise the only thing that really makes sense to me is to use his return as leverage for a bigger settlement from the school.

      His kids are young enough, that it’s not like pulling them out of a town or high school where they’ve put roots down.

      Given the arbitrator’s ruling, the only real way to make him go away is for him to dictate his own price.

    • kevinfromminneapolis


    • shleigh

      I think quality of life or culture or whatever you want to call it might be a factor. Minot is on the edge of the oil-boom in North Dakota and is experiencing growing pains. While everybody is different, proximity to the Twin Cities would be a big selling point for me, versus practically in the middle of nowhere. As a former North Dakotan, I can tell you there’s not much in or around Minto, ND.

  • Dan Murphy

    MSU is a DII program so there are scholarships. I believe their conference, the NSIC, allows for 24 scholarships. I imagine a number of the scholarships are split between players. For ex: 4 players might have a .25 scholarship equaling 1 full scholarship.

    As for the players statement: “”We want information. We want answers. We’ve decided not to practice because of a change-up in the coaching situation.” I understand they are in a difficult and unique situation. The answers they are looking for are rather simple as I see it. Hoffner was fired w/out cause and was awarded back that job. Therefore he never truly lost it nor did the interim coach have it.

    • I wonder how this would play out once players are allowed to unionize?

      • JBL

        Unions are more proactive in these kinds of situations – there would be
        people in the organization who would know to get in on discussions around supervisors before things get public. Also, those in a union should have some sympathy for a coach who was unjustly fired. Short of sympathy, they may at least be sensitive to the hypocrisy of expecting redress when mistreated, but not supporting others in the same pursuit.

  • Dave

    Can’t force them to play. And even if you could, a team whose players do not support the coach isn’t much of a team.

    • theoacme

      It isn’t a team at all, when anarchy rules, instead of discipline…

      …and basically, what the players are saying (and something Mr. Collins seemed to imply on an earlier post) is that the rule of law does not apply in this case, that it was acceptable for Coach Hoffner’s rights to be so horrendously violated by the administration and by the district attorney, and that the arbitrator should have ordered Coach Hoffner to bend over, take fifty lashes, pay back all of his salary he ever made, plus interest at 30% per year, and just crawl in a hole to die, because the current coach, who should not have ever been hired, was hired…

      …as for Minot State, they were not harmed by Coach Hoffner, they were harmed by Minnesota State – Mankato’s administration’s illicit actions – Hoffner had every right to return to the Mavericks, full stop, because his firing was against his contract.

      • That’s a completely ridiculous comprehension of what I wrote yesterday. You couldn’t possibly be more incorrect.

  • Matt

    My first thought when I read this was that Hoffner grossly miscalculated the reaction to his decision. I also do not understand why he returned to work at the school.

  • Karoly Horvath

    I’m sorry but what kind of deal is it to meet the team the first time out in the open with reporters around? They should have done it first closed doors and then walk out together if they so choose. I feel bad for the team, who are used to one coach and now someone else takes over, that must feel like betrayal… The administration and coach Hoffner weren’t professional before and they aren’t now either.

    • Lisa

      I agree. An open-field, welcome-home party with reporters? And it seems a little funny that coach Hoffner had no idea that he may not be received with a warm welcome from his team. One could assume that the interim coach (other coaching staff) knew the player sentiment before the meeting & should have manned up & stopped the public re-entry press conference. Shame on all of you. Obviously, someone is out to get Hoffner & I’m questioning why he came back for more torture. What an embarrassing day for the University & everyone involved.

    • Amanda Altamirano

      When these spoiled babies decided to throw their temper tantrum the atheletic director should have backed his head coach and said ” Anyone who wants to play for MSU be dressed out and on the field in 15 minutes the rest of you will be dismissed from this program.” but the athletic director is a gutless spineless passive puke. He doesn’t know what a real man is. Take one of the three young men that dressed out for practice and make one of them athletic director, make one of them the offense of coordinator and the other one the defensive coordinator. Replace the entire team of the misfit babies

  • John O.

    One of the first lessons after graduating from college and entering the real world is that you don’t usually have a choice of who your boss is going to be. You adapt, or you leave. In most employment situations, if you pull what these young men did, they would all be shown the door. This situation is not much different. Coaches come and coaches go. That’s the nature of the business and in this particular case, you have a new, former boss taking over.

    It is also worth noting that the Mankato Free Press refers to Coach Keen (in the past) as the “Interim Head Coach” and now as the “Associated (sic) Head Coach.” Where I work, anyone that has the moniker “Interim” attached to his or her title is in a position that is understood by everyone–including the person with the job–to not yet be “permanent,” for whatever reason. With the new title, one has to surmise that the administration offered him a coaching position with that title and he accepted it, presumably with the knowledge that Mr. Hoffner was going to return to his former job as Head Coach. Keen made a choice here too that shouldn’t be overlooked by these young men.

    All of this takes place between the coaches involved and the MSUM administration. If the kids don’t like it, fine. They have the right to transfer to another school, or quit the team.

  • Hugh Shakeshaft

    I hope the students clear up their rationale for the no show. If it’s based on some sort of factual case against Hoffner’s professionalism then that’s one thing. If it’s a soft sense of loyalty to the new coach then they are clearly over reaching. I don’t want to cry that these Millenials are a bunch of babies, but unless they have a solid case that Hoffner is incompenetent or unethical, then that’s exactly what they are.

  • Tiffany Sorenson

    That’s not the way it works kiddos….you don’t get to choose your boss, or your coach, like them or not. Suit up, and welcome to real life.

  • Amanda Altamirano

    Published the names of all the players that boycotted practice and publish the names of the three good guys who dressed out for practice.