Audit: Hoffner case shows MnSCU should rethink its investigations


A new report from Minnesota's legislative auditor criticizes the investigative methods of the State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) after the botched firing of football coach Todd Hoffner.

The 19 page report released by Legislative Auditor James Nobles Thursday suggests MnSCU rethink how it handles investigations but takes no position on whether Minnesota State University, Mankato was justified in firing Hoffner last year.

Hoffner was reinstated as coach in April after an arbitrator ruled the university had no grounds to fire him.

The auditor says the investigation that led to Hoffner's dismissal was separate from child pornography allegations that were dismissed by a judge. The report from Nobles does not explain what allegations led to the university's investigation of Hoffner, citing data privacy concerns. But it says they involved violations of policy and/or concerns about Hoffner's judgment, not criminal acts.

Auditor questions investigative methods

Nobles' report notes that MSU Mankato's investigator interviewed people who were not under oath and did not record the interviews. But, as the Star Tribune points out, the auditor is particularly critical of the investigator for destroying her notes from the interviews after she had filed her report.

The newspaper highlights this section of the auditor's report:

“We bring the issue forth because investigative methods are important in ensuring fairness to all the people affected by an investigation, and because we found confusion and conflicts among the state officials we consulted about how interviews in personnel investigations are and should be conducted and documented. Given what we found, we recommend that [the school] reassess how it conducts and documents interviews in personnel [and possibly other] investigations.”

A representative of MnSCU told MPR News in an email “further assessment by the system of the approaches used is warranted to ensure that we are using best practices."

Response to audit

State legislators and MSU Mankato President Richard Davenport asked Nobles in April to review the handling of Hoffner's case.

The report Nobles submitted Thursday includes two letters responding to his findings. One is from Hoffner's attorney, Chris Madel, the other is co-signed by Davenport and MnSCU's chancellor.

Madel criticizes the report, saying it does not include Hoffner's perspective nor any tally of how much money the university spent investigating him.

The leaders of the university and MnSCU joined Nobles in expressing hope that the report provides some closure to everyone concerned.

Meanwhile, Hoffner is back on the sidelines, leading MSU through another successful football season. The Mavericks are undefeated and recently gained the top spot in a national poll ranking Division II teams.

Next Up

State Patrol

State Patrol reports 2 fatal crashes on Friday in Minnesota

The first incident happened in Austin Township, and the second happened in Birch Lake Township.


Deaths on Minnesota roads in 2021 at highest level in more than a decade

There have been a total of eight motorcyclist fatalities on Minnesota roads this year.

Screen Shot 2021-05-08 at 9.15.09 AM

Chinese rocket debris to crash somewhere on Earth this weekend

Minnesota appears to be just outside of it's massive potential crash zone.

Starlink satellites

Strange lights in Minnesota sky Friday night were SpaceX satellites

SpaceX is planning to launch 60 more Starlink satellites on Sunday, May 9.

Jorge Polanco

Shoemaker, Twins lineup rebounds against Tigers

Jorge Polanco homered in a 7-3 victory over Detroit.

Kirill Kaprizov / Minnesota Wild

Watch: Kaprizov's OT winner lifts Wild into 2nd place in West

Kaprizov's goal gave the Wild a 3-2 victory over the Ducks.

Byron Buxton

Buxton placed on IL, Trevor Larnach called up

Buxton could be out "for weeks" with a hip strain.

A bald eagle perched on branches.

USFWS confirms 2 bald eagles were shot dead

The agency is offering a reward for information in the case.

A newborn baby, wrapped in a blanket with its mother.

Most popular baby names includes one not in top 10 for 100 years

But Olivia and Liam once again led the way for girls and boys.