Todd Hoffner worried he’d never coach again. Even after a judge dismissed child pornography charges, the former Minnesota State University, Mankato, football coach wondered if he’d get another chance.
His two-year sideline hiatus ended Thursday, when Minot State named him its new coach.
Hoffner was arrested in 2012, and eventually demoted and fired, after images of his children, aged 5 and 9, were discovered on his university-issued cellphone after a bath at his family home. A judge later ruled the images were innocent child’s play, dropping the charges.
“I have not seen him happy in almost two years,” Melodee Hoffner, the coach’s wife and a guidance counselor at Mankato East High School, said in an interview.
She was at work Thursday when he called from their home to say he’d been offered the job, ending an ordeal that left the family with three kids reeling. Melodee said her husband has applied for dozens of football coaching jobs, but even old colleagues wouldn’t invite him to work at football camps last summer.
“These are his friends and people he’s been coaching with for years,” she said. “No one would even let him be part of camps expect a one-day youth camp in Wisconsin.”
She thanked “the value-driven leadership at Minot State University for this opportunity” and said she “looks forward to live in a community where a family is safe.”
Melodee said the short notice and snowy weather prohibited the family from attending Thursday’s news conference in Minot. She expects to finish out the school year so her kids’ lives will be less disrupted before moving to North Dakota next summer. She did have some parting words for Mankato university officials and Blue Earth County authorities.
“My hope for all the institutions involved — MSU, Blue Earth County law enforcement and the prosecuting office — that hopefully it will come to a point where they understand that they clearly need more training so they don’t harm other families but also so they can help the kids who actually need it.”
Hoffner’s union grievance against Minnesota State, Mankato, is still pending. His attorney, Jim Fleming, recently filed expungement paperwork to have his court file sealed. His Bureau of Criminal Apprehension file was destroyed after his case was dismissed.
“I’m elated for him,” Fleming said. “Todd felt pessimistic and was really down, thinking that maybe he’d never coach again. I always felt he had talents and skills that people would want.”
Aaron Keen, a former Hoffner assistant, took over the team in 2012 and led the Mavericks to the NCAA Division II semifinals. Keen is still officially the interim head coach. Hoffner was reassigned to an assistant athletic director’s job and later fired.
“We’d just like to wish Todd Hoffner the best in his new opportunity,” said Minnesota State, Mankato, spokesman Dan Benson, declining to discuss specifics because of state data privacy laws.
He said the school will eventually conduct a national search before the “interim” tag would be removed from Keen’s job.
Blue Earth County prosecutor Mike Hanson failed to return phone calls seeking reaction to Hoffner’s new position.