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Continued: Mankato football players end protest, will practice

Before the arbitrator’s decision was released, Hoffner had accepted a new job as head coach at Minot State. His abrupt departure this week left the North Dakota school starting another coaching search — less than three months after hiring Hoffner. “We were frustrated with what happened, when it happened,” said Michael Linnell, the school’s sports information director. But “we’ve kind of turned the page.”

Linnell said Hoffner tendered his resignation by e-mail Tuesday, just before he announced he intended to return to Minnesota State.

When Hoffner was interviewed at Minot State, Linnell said, Hoffner was asked whether he might be interested in going back to Mankato should the opportunity arise. “He was asked at least once, if not multiple times, about going back there. He said he was committed to us 100 percent,” Linnell said.

Hoffner promises to adapt

Hoffner said Thursday he did not take the players’ actions or statements personally. He admired their support for and loyalty to Keen, he said, and accepted their call for him to change his style.

In four seasons as coach, Hoffner led the Mavericks to a 34-13 record and the 2011 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship. Thompson called Hoffner a great coach but said there were “differences” between Hoffner and the players in his first years with the program. Hoffner was not as much of a “players’ coach” as Keen, Thompson said, and the team hopes he will move toward more open communication and collaboration.

“It’s clear there has been a shift in the culture,” Hoffner said. “You have to be able to adapt to the given situation. … With a healthy dialogue and exchange, I think we’re ready to move forward.”

Lloyd said he does not expect the melodrama surrounding the football team to keep fans or boosters away. “Most of these guys that withheld contributions or didn’t buy season tickets, everyone I’ve talked to, they want to come back,” he said. “They were Hoffner supporters, and they remain Hoffner supporters.”

Hoffner said he will not be easily deterred.

“The man above can only put us in situations we can handle,” Hoffner said. “And obviously, I can handle a lot of very difficult situations. So I don’t think it’s going to be too much of a problem moving forward, and I relish the opportunity to work with these young men.”

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