By Don Davis
The Minnesota legislative auditor should put a priority on investigating the firing and last week’s reinstatement of the Minnesota State University Mankato football coach, two key legislators say.
A letter from higher education chairmen Sen. Terri Bonoff, D-Minnetonka, and Rep. Gene Pelowski, D-Winona, joined the university and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system in asking Legislative Auditor James Nobles to investigate.
Nobles said that his office will conduct a preliminary investigation, which could lead to a months-long full probe.
“Given the problematic outcome of these decisions, a thorough analysis and review is appropriate,” Bonoff said. “What happened? Was our process appropriate? What changes are needed? These questions are best answered by the independent legislative auditor.”
Pelowski said an investigation “will provide us with the information we need to ensure this never happens again.”
University officials investigated Coach Todd Hoffner after videos of his nude young children playing at bath time were found on his university cell phone. He was charged with child pornography, but a judge dismissed the charges in November of 2012.
Instead of giving him his coaching job back, the university assigned him to a newly created athletic department job, then fired him in May of last year, saying it had found that his university issued computer has been used to view pornography.
An arbitrator ruled April 9 that Hoffner should have received a reprimand, but should have been allowed to return as head coach.
When Hoffner resumed his coaching duties last week, players walked out of spring practice, saying they preferred the interim coach. The players returned for the next practice.
MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone told the system’s board that the university is limited on how much it can say about Hoffner.
“The data practices law limits our ability to even publicly acknowledge that there was an arbitration decision, much less to provide copies of arbitration decisions and underlying records or to discuss their contents,” Rosenstone said.