Minnesota State Mankato football coach under further scrutiny

  • Article by: RICHARD MERYHEW , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 26, 2012 - 10:31 PM

Two former employers are reviewing Todd Hoffner's conduct in the wake of his arrest on child pornography charges.

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The office of Todd Hoffner, head football coach at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Two colleges that once employed Minnesota State Mankato football coach Todd Hoffner are reviewing his old computer and cellphone records following his arrest and arraignment on two felony child pornography charges.

"Just based on what we learned about the accusations, it was prudent for us and the right thing to do and look back to see if there was anything in his background here that would raise a flag," said Mike Rindo, assistant chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where Hoffner was head football coach from 1999 to 2005.

An official at the University of South Dakota, where Hoffner worked as an offensive coordinator before taking the head coaching job at MSU Mankato in 2008, confirmed the school also is looking into Hoffner's conduct while he coached there.

Hoffner, 46, of Eagle Lake, was charged in Blue Earth County District Court last week after videos of nude children dancing were found on his school-issued cellphone by a university IT professional. Court records said Hoffner brought the phone to the IT department Aug. 10 because it was not working properly.

The coach, who posted $40,000 bail following a court hearing, is on paid administrative leave. A university investigation is pending.

Hoffner's attorney, Jim Fleming, has said that the images found on the cellphone of Hoffner's three children -- ages 9, 8 and 5 -- were merely "private family moments that were videotaped" and contained nothing that was "descriptive, graphic, abusive or exploitative."

The videos show the children naked or partly clothed.

Fleming said that he and Hoffner had no knowledge of the reviews underway at the two universities where Hoffner once coached.

"We were not made aware of it," he said. "But they are not going to find anything that would warrant anything of merit."

Hoffner resigned as head coach at UW-Eau Claire, which competes in Division III, in February 2006 to take the assistant coaching position at the University of South Dakota, a Division II school.

Phil Carter, a spokesman for the University of South Dakota, said the school president requested a review of Hoffner's cellphone and e-mail records late last week after Hoffner was charged in Mankato.

"It's not an official investigation," Carter said. "We don't even know if he had a cellphone issued on behalf of the university. But you want to review the activity."

Blue Earth County Sheriff's Capt. Rich Murry said his office has not been in contact with either school regarding the reviews.

He said Blue Earth County investigators continue to examine computer disks and other materials removed from Hoffner's home during a search of the residence the day of his arrest.

Murry said it would "take a bit of time" before that work is complete. "There were quite a few items removed," he said.

So far, investigators have found no additional evidence or images or videos of any other minors, Murry said.

Richard Meryhew • 612-673-4425

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