Arbitrator criticizes Minnesota State Mankato in his report

  • Article by: MIKE KASZUBA , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 18, 2014 - 1:05 AM

An arbitrator’s 72-page report regarding the case of coach Todd Hoffner, which set in motion Hoffner’s return this week to Minnesota State Mankato, harshly admonished the school for its actions.

The report, by arbitrator Gerald Wallin, was obtained Thursday by the Star Tribune. It dealt with the firing of Hoffner after the school found on his cellphone videos of his naked children playing. Criminal charges were dismissed after a judge said the videos were innocent child play.

“It is clear that [Hoffner] should never have been criminally charged for making the videos [of his children on a school-issued phone]. When the charges were dismissed, that should have ended the matter in the public eye,” Wallin said.

Wallin’s report repeatedly criticized the school and its motives.

The school’s “initial termination letter issued on October 18, 2012, before the criminal charges were dismissed, revealed its objective to rid itself of [Hoffner]. When the charges were dismissed, it appears the employer determined that it could not politically carry out its objective directly,” Wallin wrote. Instead, he added, the school “reduced its planned action to a 20-day suspension for unexplained reasons.”

“Then it appears to have constructed an alternative form of punishment under the guise of a reassignment effectively banishing [Hoffner] to a demeaning environment that would cause significant harm [to] his coaching career,” Wallin wrote.

Wallin said that he was “compelled to conclude that the employer’s objective after the charges were dismissed was to squeeze [Hoffner] into taking either one of two courses of action: quitting outright or finding other work and resigning.” Either course, said Wallin, would “allow the employer to escape its remaining payment obligations” under Hoffner’s four-year contract that ran through 2016.

In his ruling, dated April 9, Wallin ordered not only that Hoffner be reinstated as head football coach but be given a four-year contract that continues through June 2018.

Wallin’s ruling also would have given Hoffner financial compensation had he stayed at Minot State, where Hoffner took a head coaching job but abruptly left on Tuesday to go back to Mankato.

Wallin said that had Hoffner declined to be reinstated at Minnesota State because he found a new job — but the new job paid less than what Minnesota State paid him — Minnesota State would have to pay Hoffner the difference in a series of payments.

Minnesota State, Wallin said, “shall expunge [Hoffner’s] work record of any references whatsoever to any discipline in connection with his employment” at the Mankato school.

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