Minnesota State football players to return to practice on Friday

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Football players will return to the practice field on Friday and things may finally be able to get back to normal at Minnesota State University-Mankato.

The decision came after a nearly 2-hour meeting on Thursday morning between Minnesota State Athletic Director Kevin Buisman, the coaching staff and players.

The players walked off the field and refused to practice on Wednesday on Hoffner's first day back at Minnesota State.

According to a statement from Minnesota State, the players were given an opportunity to discuss their concerns during Thursday's meeting.

The players are thankful for what has transpired since our decision not to practice yesterday.
The athletic department, university administration and Coach Hoffner have made themselves
available to us to have the opportunity to express our concerns and questions about this situation.
Today at 7 a.m., we had a team meeting with all players, coaches and the director of athletics.
It was a healthy conversation between all parties.

It was after that meeting when players emerged and said they would return to practice on Friday, according to FOX 9.

Minnesota State tight end Darius Clare told KEYC, "He's the head coach now and we're gonna play for him. We're gonna play for the other coaches. We're gonna play for each other."

During a press conference on Thursday afternoon, Buisman apologized to Hoffner and his family, after the nearly 18 month ordeal.

Buisman added that it was his sincere hope they can pick up and move on so that the healing and reconciliation can happen quickly.

Members of the Maverick football said team meant no disrespect to Hoffner, but wanted to show their support for associate head coach Aaron Keen, who stepped up to lead the program in Hoffner's absence.

We wanted our voice to be heard yesterday about our support for Aaron Keen and for our desire
for a more robust communication channel be opened between the players, Coach Hoffner and
the administration about the coaching situation. We stand behind our actions and statement
made, but in no way did we want our actions to undermine Coach Hoffner’s return.

Hoffner also made a short statement at the press conference.

He returned to Minnesota State Wednesday after an arbitrator ruled last week that Minnesota State was wrong to fire Hoffner, and ruled that he should be reinstated.

He announced on Tuesday that he was eager to return to the program that he helped build.

"This is what I have wanted from day one, and now I have that opportunity to go back, and I believe it is the right thing to do," Hoffner said during the press conference,

That decision meant Hoffner would leave Minot State, where he was hired as the head football coach at the end of January.

In August of 2012, Hoffner was taken off the practice field at Minnesota State and faced with charges of child pornography stemming from nude images of his children being found on his school-issued cellphone.

He was eventually cleared of the charges, but was reassigned within the athletic department and fired in May of 2013.

That all changed last week with the arbitrator's ruling.

The changes occurred during the Mavericks' spring football practice schedule.

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