Minnesota State-Mankato coach gets job back after firing is overturned

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

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Todd Hoffner anounced Tuesday he would return as coach of NCAA Division II Minnesota State-Mankato, some 11 months after the school fired him in the wake of Hoffner's arrest on charges -- later fully dismissed -- of owning child pornography.

An arbitrator ruled last week that Mankato had wrongfully fired Hoffner in May 2013, the Associated Press reported, ordering the school to reinstate the 47-year-old coach and pay his back pay with interest. But Hoffner had since been named coach at fellow D-II program Minot State in January, leaving both programs in a state of uncertainty until Tuesday's announcement.

"I believe that resuming my duties as head football coach [at Mankato] will help heal that injury," Hoffner said at a Tuesday press conference, per the AP. "I'm not interested in revenge ... I'm not a spiteful person."

Hoffner said he would resume his duties Wednesday. He said would be "forever grateful" to the opportunity offered by Minot State, but that his "roots" in Mankato -- where his family still lives -- pulled him back to his original job.

Hoffner was arrested in 2012 after university staff found video of his naked children on his school-issued cellphone. A judge dismissed the charges three months later, saying the images, per the AP, "depicted only innocent images of children acting playful after a bath." Hofner called the charges the "most ridiculous things I've ever heard in my life."

Despite Hoffner being cleared of the charges, Mankato first suspended him for 20 days, then moved him into an administrative role in December 2012, and then fired him last May for undisclosed reasons.

Per the Mankato Free Press, the reasons cited by the arbitrator in the ruling were that Hoffner had been dismissed for "allegedly viewing pornography or allowing someone else to view pornography on his university-issued computers." The arbitrator decided there was no proof that Hoffner had used the device to view pornography, and that other people using the computer was not a fireable offense.

Hoffner went 34-13 in his first four seasons at Mankato, winning the South Division of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference three times. In 2013, interim coach Aaron Keen coached the Mavericks to an 11-1 record and berth in the second round of the D-II playoffs.

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