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Cleared Minnesota college coach fights suspension

Cleared Minnesota college coach fights suspension

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) A Minnesota college football coach who was cleared of child porn charges is fighting a suspension, his union said Thursday, although neither it nor the university would say what prompted the punishment or shed light on his prospects for reinstatement.

Coach Todd Hoffner received a written notice from Minnesota State University, Mankato late Tuesday afternoon about a 20-day unpaid suspension that begins Jan. 7, the general counsel for the Inter Faculty Organization said in an email to The Associated Press. Connie Howard said the union has filed a grievance challenging the suspension.

Hoffner was put on paid administrative leave after videos of his naked children were found on his university-issued cellphone in August. A judge ruled Nov. 30 that the videos were not pornographic and dismissed the felony charges against Hoffner, accepting his testimony that the videos merely showed his children acting silly after a bath.

``The grievance charges that the university failed to follow progressive discipline and did not have just cause to issue the suspension,'' Howard wrote. She declined to provide further details and would not say what reason the university gave for Hoffner's suspension, whether it was related to the videos or what his prospects might be for being reinstated as head coach of the Mavericks.

The MnSCU system has a policy prohibiting the use of university-issued cellphones or mobile devices for personal business.

Hoffner was beginning a new four-year contract when he was escorted off a practice field in August, a few days after he returned his malfunctioning phone to the school. University technicians found the videos and notified university officials, who contacted police. Hoffner was not allowed back and had to miss the Mavericks' 13-1 season, including their appearance in the NCAA Division II semifinals Dec. 8. He had a 34-13 record in his first four years at Mankato.

Minnesota State issued a brief statement Wednesday night saying Hoffner's administrative leave ended Monday and he remains on the university's payroll, but Aaron Keen remains acting coach.

``One complaint against the football coach was investigated and the investigation has been completed. One complaint against Mr. Hoffner is pending and is under investigation,'' the statement said without elaboration.

University spokesman Dan Benson, citing privacy laws, told the AP he couldn't comment on the nature of the complaints.

``The word `reinstated' would not be accurate,'' Benson said. ``He is no longer on leave. He remains on the payroll ... but he has not assumed duties as the head football coach again at this time.''

Hoffner could not be reached immediately for comment Thursday. He does not have a listed phone number. His civil attorney, Chris Madel, was in court and unavailable Thursday. His attorney for the criminal case, Jim Fleming, said he was not directly involved in the personnel case.

Minnesota State athletics director Kevin Buisman did not immediately return a call seeking comment Thursday.

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Report: Wizards players Thomas Bryant, Gary Payton II test positive for coronavirus

Report: Wizards players Thomas Bryant, Gary Payton II test positive for coronavirus

The Washington Wizards have their first reported cases of coronavirus, as center Thomas Bryant and Gary Payton II have tested positive, according to the Washington Post.

The timing of the tests prevented Bryant and Payton II from traveling with the Wizards to Orlando, FL as they entered the NBA's restart bubble at Disney World. The team, however, is hopeful they can join them before long.

Head coach Scott Brooks first dropped a hint on Thursday night when addressing the media on a video conference call from Orlando.

"A couple of guys did not make the trip. Hopefully they will be joining us soon. But with the CBA medical [restrictions] I can't get into who did not participate," Brooks said.

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That suggested coronavirus was the likely reason. If it were another injury, he could specify just as they did with Bradley Beal days earlier when they explained why he wasn't going to play in the restart. A basketball injury also wouldn't prevent them from traveling.

Coronavirus generally stays in the system for 10 to 14 days. It is unclear when Bryant and Payton II contracted the virus, or when they tested positive. The Wizards' first exhibition game is July 22. They play their first regular season game on July 31.

Bryant and Payton II are the first cases involving the Wizards made public. It is not known whether any others have tested positive previously, as team officials have deferred to league statements on related matters.

There have been dozens of positive tests throughout the league in recent months, including some that shut down practice facilities.

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One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

One analyst explains why Redskins' financial value won't decrease with name change

As it stands now, the Washington Redskins are one of the most valuable sports franchises in the world. According to Forbes, the team is worth a whopping $2.2 million -- the 14th most-valuable franchise in all of sports, and the fifth most valuable team in the NFL.

With the team currently conducting an internal review of the moniker, it's worth wondering if a new name would hurt the value of the team. According to Randy Vataha -- the president of Game Plan LLC., which helps the service of helping people buy and sell sports franchises -- it shouldn't.

"I don't think it will really hurt the team's value ultimately," Vataha said to NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay.

Vataha explained that each franchise's actual name has little to do with its value.

"We're big believers and have a lot of data that indicates that yes, branding is important, yes, names are important in a lot of ways, but what's really important is the size and the demographics of the market," Vataha said.

The analyst gave the example of New York sports franchises, such as the Knicks and Rangers, and how they are consistently two of the most valuable teams in all of sports. Why? Because they play in New York City.

"The New York teams are all the top teams in every league," Vataha said. "The NFL is a little different because of how they share revenue, but the New York teams are always at the top, not because of the names of the teams. It's because of the marketplace.

"You'll have a lot of people, you'll have a lot of social media, you'll have a lot of political commentary back and forth," Vataha continued. "But at the end of the day, the core value is decided by the size of the market and the demographics of the market."

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This past week, a report surfaced from the Washington Post that the Redskins three minority owners were looking to sell their stake in the team, citing that they were "not happy being a partner" with Redskins majority owner Dan Snyder. The three minority owners -- Fred Smith, Dwight Schar and Robert Rothman -- make up approximately 40 percent of the team's ownership group.

Vataha said he understands both sides of the argument surrounding the team. Additionally, he said that the safest financial decision for the team would be to keep the name, despite all the public backlash they've received over the past couple of weeks.

RELATED: VATAHA DOESN'T BELIEVE SNYDER WILL BE FORCED OUT

However, immediately after, Vataha emphasized once more that he doesn't envision the name change truly making a big difference value-wise.

"I understand the arguments on both sides pretty well," Vataha said. "But I think from the financial standpoint, the safest thing is never change it. But, on the other hand, I don't think it'll be a big hit to value any way at all."

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