MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Football players at Minnesota State, Mankato, refused to practice for their former head coach on Wednesday, greeting his reinstatement by an arbitrator by demanding that the interim coach keep the top job.
Todd Hoffner returned to campus for the first time since the arbitrator ruled he was fired unfairly last year in the wake of a child porn investigation that ultimately cleared him.
Mavericks players came out for spring practice Wednesday afternoon but were not in uniform, The Free Press of Mankato reported. They read a statement saying they were unanimous in wanting Aaron Keen to remain as head coach.
"We've all become outstanding community members, students and athletes in the last year and a half since the removal of Todd Hoffner," said the statement, which junior safety Sam Thompson read aloud. "Throughout this process, we have been silent. It is time our voice is heard."
Thompson said the players "want answers, because this is our team," according to the MSU Reporter, a student publication.
"As a unit we have decided not to practice, because of the change-up in the coaching situation," he said.
Keen gave a brief statement saying the football program was bound by the arbitrator's ruling and that Hoffner is the head coach.
Athletic director Kevin Buisman said in a statement that players had "shared their concerns." He said a meeting was scheduled for Thursday between the players, Hoffner, Keen and the rest of the coaching staff.
Under interim coach Keen, Minnesota State finished 11-1 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament. But they were also successful under Hoffner: 34-13 in his four seasons from 2008-12.