Update: Legislative auditor will review Hoffner firing at MSU


The Minnesota Legislative Auditor will review the events surrounding the termination of Minnesota State University-Mankato football head coach Todd Hoffner.

Legislative auditor, James Nobles, said his office will soon conduct the preliminary review of the events surrounding the suspension, termination and eventual reinstatement of Hoffner.

According to the Mankato Free Press, Nobles and two others will look through materials relating to the arbitration and other materials from MSU and MnSCU to determine if the office should conduct a full review.

Hoffner was escorted off the practice field in August of 2012 and placed on administrative leave after videos of his naked children were discovered on his work-issued cellphone. Hoffner faced child pornography charges, but they were dismissed a few months later.

Even after Hoffner was cleared in the criminal investigation, he was not reinstated as the head football coach. Instead, Hoffner was reassigned within the Minnesota State Athletic Department. He was suspended again then eventually fired from the new position.

Hoffner fought his firing and won an arbitrator's ruling earlier this month that found he was wrongfully dismissed from his job. He decided to return to Minnesota State, despite recently being hired as the head football coach at conference rival Minot State. Hoffner made his return last week.

After a rough first day in which the players walked off the field, things quickly returned to normal near the end of last week.

The Free Press reports there have been conversations with Nobles and some legislators about a review since the arbitration results were issued April 9. Rep. Gene Pelowski, DFL-Winona co-signed the written request with Sen. Terri E. Bonoff, DFL-Minnetonka, to review the case.

Minnesota State University President Richard Davenport requested the review of the processes school officials followed in dealing with the Hoffner situation.

The Star Tribune reports that Davenport said the objective isn't to review whether the university's decisions were correct, but to determine if the processes used were appropriate.

The Free Press reports MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone said concerns were raised about how the Hoffner situation was handled. Those concerns led Davenport to seek the review.

Rosenstone addressed the MnSCU Board of Trustees on the matter at their Wednesday meeting. He said that personnel decisions are made "only after thorough investigation and careful consideration of all the facts."

Still, the arbitrator ruled that MSU was wrong when it fired Hoffner and said he should be reinstated as the head football coach.

Bonoff, the chair of the Senate Higher Education and Workforce Development Committee, said she's been inquiring to MnSCU about the Hoffner situation since the videos of his naked children were first found on his phone by MSU. She said the arbitrator's decision made clear that "there's something wrong here."

During a press conference last week, Minnesota State Athletic Director Kevin Buisman apologized to Hoffner and his family for having to endure the 20-month ordeal.

According to the Free Press, those sentiments were echoed by Rosenstone at Wednesday's meeting.

"At this juncture, it is our hope that the Hoffners' lives can return to normal and the university can devote its full attention to doing what it does so well – serving students," Rosenstone said. "Again, with the commitment we have from those involved, I have confidence that we will succeed."

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