MANKATO, Minn. - Todd Hoffner was once a coach of the year, now the Minnesota State University Mankato head football coach is in jail. The 46-year old coach is accused of using a minor in a sexual performance and possessing child pornography.
The Blue Earth County Sheriff's Office did not return repeated phone calls for comment about the investigation, but according to jail records, a sheriff deputy arrested Hoffner Tuesday just before noon and he was booked into the county jail awaiting formal charges.
The news of the arrest comes about a week before the season opener and days before school is scheduled to start.
"It's all around campus," said student Kevin Carroll.
"I really hope it's not true. It's such devastating news when you hear it. And how it affects families and everyone, and students," said Kendra Verhage.
According to his university bio online, Hoffner is married and has three children and was entering his fifth season as the head coach. He was awarded the coach of the year for the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference in 2009.
Among other coaching stops, Hoffner was the head football coach for University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in the early 2000's.
Mankato school officials say Hoffner has been placed on leave since Friday pending a criminal and campus investigation. A school official who did not want to be named told KARE 11, Hoffner was pulled from practice Friday, a little more than a week before the season is set to begin.
His players met Tuesday evening with the coaching staff for about a half hour, but none of them wanted to talk afterwards. A parent of a football player who did not want to be identified told KARE 11 he and his son had good impressions of Hoffner and there was no indication this was going on.
The school has named assistant coach Aaron Keen as the interim head coach. He told KARE 11 Tuesday afternoon that the news came out of nowhere and the team meeting was a chance for the staff to be there for the players.
"It's kind of disappointing because of what was happening out in Penn State already. And now it's coming home. It's a little bit disconcerting," said Carroll.
First thoughts by students and parents were of the recent Penn State scandal, but campus officials in Mankato tried to move quickly to calm people's fears, saying the university's first priority is students' safety.
"The university is not aware of any allegations affecting university students or program participants," said spokesperson Dan Benson.
He directed all questions concerning the investigation to the Blue Earth County Sheriff's Office, this as students are set to start school in the next few days.
"Hopefully he's innocent and something's wrong here but just pray for the campus," said Carroll.
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