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April 20, 2014

Players relent, agree to play for reinstated football coach

MANKATO, Minn. — Minnesota State University-Mankato's football team has ended its boycott of reinstated head coach Todd Hoffner, who successfully fought child pornography charges and other misconduct accusations that removed him from the job for 20 months.

Hoffner said he assured the players, who refused to take the practice field Wednesday, that interim coach Aaron Keen, who led the team in Hoffner's absence, will continue in a major role with the team.

Keen, who coached the Mavericks to an 11-1 record last season, has been elevated to associate head coach, said Hoffner. Players called for his continuation as head coach in a statement supporting their one-day boycott.

Sam Thompson, player spokesman for the team admitted the boycott overreacted to Hoffner's return as head coach. He said the purpose was to air player concerns and establish better communications with Hoffner, and that both were accomplished.

Players returned to the practice field Friday, with Keen running the on-field drills while Hoffner strolled the sidelines, making notes and talking with spectators. He said he would continue as an observer of the team through the last week of spring practice, and the annual spring intrasquad game.

"These young men have been through a lot," Hoffner told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. ""They have tremendous leadership, and I'm excited to be part of everything they are doing."

Hoffner's saga, which drew national attention, started in August of 2012 when he was escorted off the practice field and within three days, charged by a local prosecutor with two charges of child pornography for posting to his school-issued cellphone a video of his three young children dancing naked after bathing. Three months later a judge threw out the charges, ruling the video images showed innocent play by the coach's kids.

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