Todd Hoffner, the Mankato football coach cleared of child pornography charges last fall, was fired Monday by the school where he had worked since 2008.
Connie Howard, an attorney with the Inter Faculty Organization, which represents the faculty at state universities, confirmed the firing by Minnesota State University, Mankato in an e-mail Wednesday but did not elaborate on the reason for the dismissal.
She said the union is challenging the termination and Hoffner’s reassignment earlier this year from head football coach to assistant athletic director in charge of facilities.
She said the two issues will be consolidated and argued before an arbitrator this summer.
“We expect Coach Hoffner to prevail,” Howard wrote.
Dan Benson, a university spokesman, confirmed Wednesday that Hoffner was removed from the payroll earlier this week.
Benson, citing privacy laws, declined to elaborate on the reasons for the firing, saying only that it was a private, personnel matter.
Neither Hoffner nor his attorney could be reached for comment.
Hoffner, 46, was hired as the school’s head football coach in 2008 and signed a four-year extension with a significant raise last summer. He was removed from the job late last year after being arrested and later cleared of two felony child pornography charges stemming from cellphone videos he took last summer of his children.
The videos showed Hoffner’s children, ages 5 to 9 at the time, dancing and performing skits after taking a bath in the family’s whirlpool tub.
School officials discovered the videos after Hoffner turned in his malfunctioning cellphone to the university’s IT department in August.
The university immediately put Hoffner on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the criminal case and the university investigation. As part of the leave, Hoffner was not allowed to set foot on campus or attend his team’s games.
Hoffner, his wife, Melodee, and his attorney, Jim Fleming, said from the start that the images were taken out of context and showed nothing sexual or graphic.
In late November, after viewing the videos, Blue Earth County District Judge Krista Jass agreed. She dismissed the charges, saying the images showed innocent child’s play.
Despite the ruling, the university did not reinstate Hoffner as coach and continued to investigate two, undisclosed complaints against him. A source with knowledge of the complaints said that one was related to Hoffner’s use of the school-issued phone to take the videos of his children.
Benson said Wednesday that the university’s investigation into the complaints is complete but again declined to elaborate on the findings.
School officials informed Hoffner by letter in December that he would not be reinstated as head coach and would be reassigned. At that time, Howard vowed to fight the reassignment and a 20-day, unpaid suspension that began in January.
Hoffner served the suspension, but the union’s grievance is still pending.
Earlier this year, the university announced a national search for a coach to replace Hoffner. In the meantime, Aaron Keen, a Hoffner assistant who served as interim head coach last fall, has continued in that role. Keen led the team to a 13-1 record and a berth in the NCAA Division II national semifinals in Hoffner’s absence.