MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota State football players ended their boycott of spring practice and said Thursday they will play for coach Todd Hoffner, who was reinstated after being exonerated of having child pornography on his cellphone.
The players had refused to practice Wednesday as a show of support for interim coach Aaron Keen, who took over after Hoffner was arrested in 2012 because images of his naked children were found on a university-issued cellphone. A judge later said he had been wrongly accused and the images were an innocent video of his children playing after a bath.
"As a team, we are ready to get back to playing football," junior defensive back Sam Thompson and sophomore wide receiver Kyle Riggott said in a statement after the players and coaching staff held a nearly two-hour closed-door meeting Thursday.
The players had said on Wednesday they felt shut out of the process of Hoffner returning.
"We received the answers we were looking for, feel fit to practice and welcome Coach Hoffner as we head toward the end of spring drills," the players said after the team meeting. They will return to practice Friday.
After his arrest, Hoffner was suspended, reassigned and fired for reasons that the school declined to make public. His supporters said the school overreacted in the wake of the sex abuse scandal at Penn State, noting his high-profile arrest came just months after retired Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was convicted of child sex abuse.