Updated: 04/17/2014 7:22 AM
Created: 04/16/2014 1:44 PM KSTP.com
By: Nick Tabbert
Todd Hoffner said it was refreshing to be back on campus at the Minnesota State University, Mankato for the first time since he was improperly fired last year. The football coach probably did not anticipate how poorly his reunion with his players would go.
Players boycotted practice Wednesday saying they wanted interim head coach Aaron Keen to continue to lead the program. According to the Free Press of Mankato, members of the team came out of the locker room not in uniform and read a statement saying they wanted Keen back as coach. Defensive end Chris Schaudt tweeted this Tuesday:
Keen gave a brief statement to the media and said the football program is bound to the arbitrator's ruling and that Hoffner is the head coach, the Free Press reported.
Kevin Buisman, Minnesota State Director of Athletics, met with student-athletes of the Maverick Football program Wednesday afternoon, where they shared their concerns. Buisman said that another meeting has been scheduled for Thursday at a time to be determined with the student-athletes, head coach Hoffner, associate head coach Aaron Keen and other members of the coaching staff in attendance.
The cold reception comes a day after Hoffner announced his decision to return to the program that dismissed him several months after he was arrested on a child pornography charge that was later dropped. Hoffner had previously accepted the top job at Minot State.
On Wednesday Hoffner met with athletic department officials, signed his new $105,000 a year contract and retraced the steps to his office. He planned to observe drills later in the afternoon with many players he helped recruit into the program.
"The campus is very vibrant and alive. It's a great feeling to walk these hallways again," Hoffner told the Free Press earlier in the day.
Hoffner is back in charge of the Mavericks football program for the first time since being escorted off the practice field in August 2012, when the investigation began into the use of his university-issued cellphone to allegedly create child pornography. Charges were later dismissed by a judge.
But Hoffner was in professional limbo until January, when he was hired to be the football coach at Minot State in North Dakota, a job he held until his announcement Tuesday that he would return to his position at Mankato. That job choice surfaced when an arbitrator ruled last week that Minnesota State improperly suspended, reassigned and fired Hoffner.
The Free Press reported Hoffner said he got a big hug from senior tight end Darius Claire as he walked into the football offices before practice.
"That made me feel good. I don't know if every person will feel that way," said Hoffner, sporting his Minnesota State jacket.
It's clear now his other players don't feel the same way.
The Associated Press contributed to this report