MANKATO, Minn. —
But the school declined to reinstate Hoffner, pending an internal investigation. He was assigned to administrative duties and later fired based on the inquiry's findings, which included accusations of visiting pornographic websites on his work computer and other misconduct allegations. The arbitrator determined the accusations were unfounded.
Keeen served as interim head coach for the two seasons Hoffner remained in limbo. In 2013, the team experienced one of its best seasons ever, finishing 11-1 and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Division II tournament.
Hoffner said he didn't decide until right before a news conference at his lawyer's office in Minneapolis Tuesday afternoon that he would return to Mankato. In tearful remarks, he said his family had ties to Mankato and "I helped grow the program to a national power."
Hoffner's salary at Mankato is $108,000 annually. His contract now runs through 2018. That's $18,000 per year more than he would have been paid at Minot State. Officials there wished Hoffner well and said they would immediately begin searching for a replacement head coach.
The Minnesota school released a statement saying it welcomed Hoffner back as head coach.
"This has been a difficult journey for all involved," the statement said. "We extend our apologies to Mr. Hoffner and deeply regret the difficulties he and his family have experienced. ... It is our sincere hope that all concerned can now find ways to move forward."
The players statement:
"As a collective unit, we’ve all agreed that we will stick together and show our support in having Aaron Keen as the head football coach at Minnesota State University, Mankato.
"We’ve all become outstanding community members, students, athletes, in the last year and a half since the removal of Todd Hoffner.
"Throughout this process, our voice has been silent, it is time our voice is heard.
"We want information, we want answers, becausae this is our team.
"As a unit we have decided not to practice, because of the change-up in the coaching situation.
"We want Aaron Keen as the head coach."
Details for this story were provided by the Mankato, Minn., Free Press.