|Blame All Around in Hoffner Saga
|By Sally Haase
April 18, 2014
After two years out of his job as Minnesota State University- Mankato’s head
football coach, Todd Hoffner was given back his job after an arbitrator ruled that the
university wrongfully fired the coach. Two years ago Hoffner was escorted off the field by
university officials after a video of his children were found on his university issued cell phone,
the Hoffner children were performing a skit after taking a bath and things got out of hand to
the point where if it was taken out of context, the video would look like child pornography.
The description of the video in question in the court documents and in the media would have
led anyone (myself included) to believe that Hoffner was guilty as sin. A judge ruled that the
video was what Hoffner was saying the entire time- innocent family fun, and Hoffner was
cleared of all charges. Hoffner then began the process of getting his job back.
I would like to take this opportunity to apologize to Coach Hoffner for my quick
judgment on this issue, this is something his family will have to deal with for a long time and
he was painted as guilty until proven innocent by the media and now that he has proved his
innocence; he has returned to his former job.
The return to work was not a smooth one for Hoffner, all but three MSU football
players refused to dress and practice on Wednesday, player representative, Samuel
Thompson read a statement saying that they were refusing to practice until interim coach,
Aaron Keen was given the head coaching job. By the end of the Thursday morning meeting
between players, coaches and MSU athletic director, Kevin Buisman the players agreed to
play under coach Hoffner.
I see where the players are coming from; Keen led the team to a 13-1 season
during all the turmoil surrounding Hoffner and an 11-1 record this past season. Keen is
obviously a success, and this sudden change in coaching upset the players to the point that
did their protest just to make sure their voices and concerns were heard. The players could
have done it better and asked for a meeting to get this all out in the open instead of creating
another media circus, either way works, but the media circus gets the university’s attention.
This whole thing has been handled wrong from the very beginning, from the
university to Hoffner to the players; there is blame to go around. First off, the university’s
handling of the discovered video; now this was in the aftermath of the Penn State scandal
and I’m sure whoever found this video thought it would be better to be safe than sorry and
alerted university officials. The officials went to the police, who used very little discretion in
their investigation. Had the university and police been more discrete in investigating the
video, the Hoffner family would not have gone through the public humiliation of this
investigation. Legally, the right thing was done, but I can’t help but wonder if they could have
done more investigating before the allegations were made public. Had there been a deeper
investigation before an arrest was made, Hoffner would have never been arrested. He
was/is innocent, and if he had nothing to hide, he would have likely turned over everything for
the police to look at.
There is also blame on Hoffner; he should have never used his university cell phone
to take the video of his kids' skit. And once the video got out of hand, he should have
stopped recording and deleted the video. The little mind slip of forgetting the video is on his
phone and the mind slip of forgetting to delete the video cost Hoffner his reputation and
nearly two years of work. Hoffner can now start the journey of repairing his reputation with
his players, community and the university.
If there is any lesson to learn from this it is that we all need to be very, very careful
about what we have on our computers and cell phones because it is easy to understand the
context in the moment, but to an outsider, the context could be something completely