Nepal

Mount Everest Avalanche Witness: ‘It Looked Like a Big Snake Coming Down The Mountain’

Nepal Everest Avalanche
A Buddhist monk lights the funeral pyre of Nepalese mountaineer Ang Kaji Sherpa, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, during his funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 21, 2014. Buddhist monks cremated the remains of Sherpa guides who were buried in the deadliest avalanche ever recorded on Mount Everest, a disaster that has prompted calls for a climbing boycott by Nepal's ethnic Sherpa community. The avalanche killed at least 13 Sherpas. Three other Sherpas remain missing and are presumed dead. Niranjan Shrestha / ASSOCIATED PRESS

TIME talked with Joby Ogwyn, an American climber who was at base camp at Mount Everest when the deadliest avalanche in the mountain's recorded history hit, killing at least 13 Nepalese Sherpas this month, sparking resentment over working conditions on expeditions

Joby Ogwyn was planning to jump off the summit of Mount Everest. Instead he went to funerals for his Sherpas.

There are some 50,000 Sherpas in the world, according to some estimates, mountain-dwelling people best known for the livelihood the Nepalese Sherpas have made helping tourists scale Mount Everest. At at least 13 of them were killed this month in the deadliest avalanche in the mountain’s recorded history—proportionally, that would be like a loss of about 100,000 Americans in a single day. Dozens of Nepalese Sherpas staged a walkout at the Mount Everest base camp on Wednesday, in honor of the fallen and in reaction to a tragedy that has sparked resentment over their working conditions. The mountain is closed, and long-planned expeditions are being canceled, some by teams who lost their guides in the avalanche and want to respect their memories by standing down this season, even if the mountain reopens.

One of those teams is Ogwyn’s. The American climber was set to do the first wing-suit jump off the summit of Everest, to be broadcast live by the Discovery Channel later this month. In the wake of the avalanche, the grand adventure that was hatched two years ago has been scrapped. Discovery is eating many of those costs and will instead be airing a special documentary on May 4 about the aftermath of the avalanche, which it inadvertently had camera teams in place to capture.

TIME spoke to Ogwyn from his hotel in Kathmandu about what it was like to be on the ground when the mountain came tumbling down, what he remembers of the guides that their team lost, and why he has no regrets.

“It looked like a big snake coming down the mountain through the ice fall,” Ogwyn recalls of when he first saw the avalanche. “And I saw all my guides with the other Sherpa on ladders, going up a big vertical section of ice. And the avalanche just came down right on top of them. I knew it was bad, but obviously I didn’t realize how bad it would be.”

Here’s his interview with TIME, lightly edited and condensed.

When did you arrive in Nepal and what was the trip to base camp like?

I arrived on April 4, and I was here for a couple days. Then my team took a small airplane ride to the city of Luqa and 9,000 feet. We proceeded to trek in, and it took about seven days to arrive at base camp. On the third day we were there, we had our puja ceremony, which is the blessing of all the members of the team. And it was really the most beautiful puja ceremony I’ve ever been to, and I’ve been to a lot. Each expedition has their own. They have a lama that comes. It’s a celebration, but it’s really a prayer for safe passage up the mountain. We had a really great day there and bonded with all our friends, our Sherpa, our staff from base camp.

And then what happened?

The very next day, our guides were going to take some equipment to the first camp. We had planned on going the following day. That morning that they went up, I was awake very early in my tent. It was about 6:45 a.m. if I remember right, and I heard the avalanche.

There’s a lot of little avalanches that happen when you’re at base camp. You’re on a glacier and everything is creaking and cracking, so you get used to hearing those types of things. And usually you don’t look outside your tent unless you really hear that it’s a big avalanche. Because they’re quite powerful and, in some ways, quite beautiful. But the one that I heard [even though it didn't sound big], I could hear that it was coming from the ice fall. And I knew my guides and a lot of other guides were up there. I zipped the tent fly back and looked out.

I couldn’t see it at first. It had happened a little further back on the mountain, where the piece had broken off. And then I saw it. It looked like a big snake coming down the mountain through the ice fall. And I saw all my guides with the other Sherpa on ladders, going up a big vertical section of ice. And the avalanche just came down right on top of them. I knew it was bad, but obviously I didn’t realize how bad it would be.

How could you tell, when you heard the avalanche, how big it was?

The way that it works on the really big mountains in the Himalayas, it’s not like an avalanche you would have in Colorado, where it looks like a little slab that breaks off and it’s soft snow. This is all ice. The mountains are so big and so high, they’re on these glaciers. And at some moment, a piece of it breaks off. When it hits, it falls for so long, tumbling down the mountain, it brings so much energy and speed and power, that when that piece breaks, it just turns it into pieces of shrapnel that are made out of ice. And whatever it hits, it destroys.

This one, it seemed to me, came from a piece of ice that was not hanging quite as high. It wasn’t as loud or as fast-moving as I had seen many others. There were people that had gotten away from it, people who saw it and outran it. And the people behind them, once it got to them, it had more speed and pushed them back into the ice fall. … I knew that some people had probably died, been killed by the upper, bigger part of it. But I was hoping that the guides that I saw get covered up just got a dusting. Unfortunately, that was not the case.

So what did you do in those moments after you looked out of your tent and saw the avalanche covering your guides?

I put my clothes on very quickly, got out of my tent. In other camps I started to hear people talking and yelling at each other. Our radios lit up. I walked into the our communications tent where our camp manager was and we just started to try to make contact on the radio with our guides. We made contact with some guides up there who weren’t on our team and were asking about our team members. You could hear in the background on the radio, guys were scrambling around, yelling back and forth. The Sherpa who had survived were working very hard to find the Sherpa that were covered up and were trying to dig them out, digging them out as fast as they could. Some they were finding very quickly were dead. Some they found still alive, or just covered up, and they managed to pull them out. But from what they were telling us, it was a brutal scene.

So very quickly, I would say within 12 minutes, all the Western teams had come together with their lead guides and were preparing for going up and assisting. We were getting helicopters mobilized, which was the part of the process that took the longest. It probably took an hour or two hours, which is still incredibly fast in this area because it’s just very remote. I was impressed with how fast people came together.

And what did you personally do in terms of recovery efforts? Was there much you could do at that point?

We knew that of our guides who were up there, three of them were missing and three were alive. And we also knew a lot of other people up there. So my climbing partner Garrett Madison and I, we geared up and we started walking into the ice fall. We walked up not quite halfway and our goal was to make sure that we tried to find our three guides and that we received our other three guides coming down. And every other Sherpa, we wanted to bring them food and water and medical equipment. One cameraman came up there and the two of us stayed in position there. It took us all day, until every single Sherpa was off the mountain.

My climbing partner went up the ice fall. He climbed all the way up to the actual avalanche zone, found our guides and unfortunately the three of them that we were working with, that we were going to go to the summit with, were all dead. He spent hours in this hot zone with several other guides basically chipping our guides out of the ice so we could do the body recovery for their families, which is very important in this part of the world, to retrieve the bodies of these guides. They were our guides, our Sherpa, our lead Sherpa. And this ice is really like concrete. It took a long time to get them out. And it just, really, was one of the more heroic things I’ve ever seen. What I did was trying to spot for those guys in case anything was coming down.

Eventually we got everybody off the mountain that we could. There were three guides who were missing who would be very difficult or impossible to find. But we did manage to get our three guides out and get their bodies in the helicopter back to Kathmandu so they could be cremated. We just had the funerals for them yesterday. It was a pretty massive crowd of people and it was just a very, very sad day. We definitely did everything we could to help our friends. I just wish that we could have done more.

When you think about it now, do you have any regrets about trying to have this adventure?

No, I don’t have any regerets at all. What happened was just an unfortunate one-in-a-billion accident, truly an act of God. It just was so random, out of nowhere. You have to remember that people have been climbing on Everest for over 50 years, and nothing like this has ever happened, especially in the last decades. The safety precautions and the way trips are organized has gotten really good. But unfortunately the mountain is what it is. It’s just a massive piece of nature. People do die on it every year. What’s really shocking about this particular instance is that it happened on the first day of climbing, essentially, right at the very beginning, and that is why it was all Sherpa.

My intention was to climb up the very first day, taking all the equipment we could carry and establishing that first camp. The only thing that kept me from being with these guides and being killed ourselves is that one of the producers wanted to do some shots with our equipment and from a scheduling point of view, we thought, we’ll get this out of the way and come up the next day. Literally, when they asked me, and I thought about it for an hour before saying, okay, let’s do it. The fact that I had to think about it for an hour really is scary to me now, because I almost said, Nah, I’m going to go up with my guides the first time. That one little choice saved my life.

Obviously you’re feeling some grief, but do you also feel very lucky?

Absolutely. I am destroyed for my guides, there’s no doubt about that. And I might have lost my team, but other Sherpa lost brothers and friends and cousins. It was just a catastrophe. Am I sad about my project? Of course. You know, I’m not the only person who put a massive amount of time and resources into it, and we had great weather and good conditions for the most part on the mountain. I’m quite convinced that if this hadn’t happened, we could have made everything work. But that’s really the least of my concerns right now. … Nobody is feeling sorry for themselves here.

Sports

The Ridiculous Things NFL Cheerleaders Put Up With

New England Patriots v Buffalo Bills
Tom Szczerbowski—Getty Images

Members of the Buffalo Jills are the third group of cheerleaders in the NFL to file a lawsuit citing poor pay and degrading treatment from their franchises, including catcalling, groping, "jiggle tests" and worse

Another group of NFL cheerleaders is suing their team for wage theft claiming that they’ve worked hundreds of unpaid hours training and performing, as well as appearing at events where they were at risk for catcalls and groping.

Five former Buffalo Bills cheerleaders filed suit on Tuesday, and they are the third group of cheerleaders to do so. As TIME reported in February, cheerleaders for the Cincinnati Bengals and Oakland Raiders have filed similar suits for poor pay and demeaning treatment.

Buffalo Bills cheerleaders, called the Buffalo Jills, say they are wrongly classified as independent contractors and are therefore not paid the state’s $8 minimum wage. One of the cheerleaders, Alyssa U. told the Associated Press that she estimated she was paid only $420 for the 2012-13 football season, and another cheerleader, Maria P., says she only got $105 for the season.

Previous cases have had mixed results. Cincinnati Bengals’ Ben-Gals cheerleader Alexa Brenneman, 24 filed that suit was paid a total of $855 for her time as a Ben-Gals cheerleader. She says she spent over 300 hours performing, practicing and attending events–she missed one game for a funeral and wasn’t paid. The minimum wage in Ohio is $7.85, but Brenneman’s pay equates to less than $2.85 an hour. Brenneman’s case is still pending. And unfortunately for the Oakland Raiders cheerleaders who brought the complaint, the Raiderettes, the U.S. Department of Labor announced in March that it had closed its investigation of the case, concluding that the Raiders are exempt from paying their cheerleaders minimum wage, since they are considered “seasonal amusement.” The suit may go to private arbitration. Some of the Raiderettes still want to go to court.

Beyond the surprisingly low pay for a job in this very profitable industry, these women say they are subjected to treatment and demands that are unfair and degrading. The calendars the women pose for? They don’t get any free copies. The Oakland Raiderettes, for example, got to purchase their calendars at cost. All the women have highly specific and sometimes costly physical standards they must maintain, which includes mandatory trips to nail and hair salons. And according to the Buffalo Bills’ suit, their cheerleaders are forced to participate in what are called “jiggle tests” so their coach can assess the firmness of their bodies. According to the complaint documents which were procured by Deadspin, the women were also given a rulebook with demands like: “how to properly wash “intimate areas,” and how often to change tampons.”

“Everything from standing in front of us with a clipboard having us do a jiggle test to see what parts of our body were jiggling,” cheerleader Alyssa U. told the Associated Press, “and if that was something that she saw, you were getting benched.”

These policies aren’t isolated cases. A Raiderette guidebook that was released to the Los Angeles Times listed demands like: “There’s not a female alive (or male either) who doesn’t like attention. But you need to learn to deal with attention you receive from the public (and especially the players) without it getting out of hand and going to your head.” When it comes to parties, the women were told to be on their best behavior, with the manual citing a popular annual Halloween party that had been hosted by an NFL player: “This same player was suspended from the team for drug use but also arrested for date rape. For you on the squad who have attended those parties, just think how narrowly you missed having your photo in all the local papers and/or being assaulted.”

Cheerleaders are not bringing in all the money for the NFL, but they are a necessary draw for many teams as they are evidence of a franchise’s success. For example, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders still bring in about $1 million per season for their team. Not to mention that overall, the NFL is the most lucrative sport in America. As TIME reported, in 2012, the Oakland Raiders were valued at $825 million, with revenue of $229 million. The NFL, a tax-exempt organization, brings in about $9 billion in revenue annually, and the group hopes to bring in $25 billion by 2027.

The argument the women hear constantly, is that there are hundreds of women who would gladly take their spot if given the chance. “Do they pay a lot? No they don’t. But there are women who would continue to do it if they paid even less. It’s really not amount the money. It’s about the opportunity, and the prestige, and loving the sport and the game,” Starr Spangler Rey, 27, a former three-season Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader—now a management consultant, told TIME.

The women hope for policy changes in how they are treated and paid. Given the immense wealth of these franchises, it doesn’t seem like a lot to ask for.

When asked to comment about the lawsuit, Scott Berchtold, senior vice president of communications for the Buffalo Bills, said in an email response to TIME: “We are aware of this lawsuit and it is our organizational policy not to comment on pending litigation.”

Baseball

Albert Pujols Hits 500th Career Home Run in Win Over Nationals

Albert Pujols #5 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim rounds the bases after hitting a two-run home run against the Washington Nationals in the fifth inning at Nationals Park on April 22, 2014 in Washington, DC Patrick Smith—Getty Images

First baseman Albert Pujols of the Los Angeles Angels joined the few who have hit 500 home runs in their careers, during a win over the Washington Nationals, making him the third-youngest player to accomplish the feat in the history of Major League Baseball

Tuesday night was all about Albert Pujols in the nation’s capital.

The first baseman joined the likes of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron when in the top of the 5th inning he buried a 430-ft. homerun in left centerfield, the 50oth of his career.

“To have more than 19,000 players who wore a big league uniform and to have only 26 players to do this, it’s pretty special,” Pujols told ESPN. “I was pretty emotional running the bases.”

The home run was Pujols’s second of the night, having already driven a homer into deep left field during the first inning of play. The Angels finished off the Washington Nationals with a dominant 7-2 win.

Basketball

Popovich Wins NBA Coach of the Year

Gregg Popovich
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, left, argues a call during the first quarter of Game 1 of the opening-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Dallas Mavericks, Sunday, April 20, 2014, in San Antonio. Eric Gay—AP

San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has been named NBA coach of the year, making him just the third coach in league history to win the award three times in his career.

The NBA announced the honor on Tuesday. He has won it twice in the last three seasons and joins Don Nelson and Pat Riley as the only coaches to win the award three times.

Popovich led the Spurs to a league-best 62-20 record, which gives them home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Popovich has led the Spurs to 15 straight 50-win seasons and has won 60 games four times in that span.

Popovich garnered 59 first-place votes. Phoenix’s Jeff Hornacek finished second and Chicago’s Tom Thibodeau finished third in the voting.

Cycling

Armstrong Coach Bruyneel Banned for 10 Years

Armstrong Lawsuit Cycling
In this July 24, 2005 file photo, Lance Armstrong, left, and Johan Bruyneel, sporting director of the Discovery team, pose for photographers on the Champs Elysees during a victory parade after Armstrong won his 7th straight Tour de France cycling race in Paris. Alessandro Travoti—AP

Lance Armstrong’s longtime coach, Johan Bruyneel, was banned for 10 years on Tuesday for helping to organize massive doping on teams led by the disgraced cyclist.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced the verdicts of an American Arbitration Association panel against Bruyneel and two medical staff, completing its lengthy investigation which saw Armstrong banished from cycling in 2012.

Bruyneel “was at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping on the (U.S. Postal Service) and Discovery Channel teams spanning many years and many riders,” USADA said in a statement.

Team doctor Pedro Celaya and trainer Jose “Pepe” Marti will serve eight-year bans.

Bruyneel claimed he, Armstrong and the others have been made scapegoats for an era when doping was “a fact of life” in cycling.

“I do not dispute that there are certain elements of my career that I wish had been different,” Bruyneel said in a statement. “However, a very small minority of us has been used as scapegoats for an entire generation.”

As a Belgian national, Bruyneel questioned USADA’s right to prosecute him and said he would consider appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Bruyneel, Celaya and Marti faced charges including trafficking and administering doping products and methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, human growth hormone and cortisone.

The ruling said Bruyneel encouraged his riders to cheat, and Levi Leipheimer, one of eight former Armstrong teammates who gave evidence, testified to the director’s “integral role” managing the doping program.

“Specifically, Mr. Leipheimer stated that Mr. Bruyneel ‘was the boss; people who took actions only did so from his instructions,’” the AAA stated in its 112-page published ruling.

The verdicts followed a four-day hearing in London last December before a three-member AAA panel.

“The panel found that Bruyneel himself ‘profited considerably from the successes of the teams and riders he managed during the relevant period,’” the USADA statement said.

Bruyneel refused to testify and “presented no fact witnesses on his own behalf,” USADA said.

Marti also refused to testify, while Celaya was cross examined and found by the panel not to be a credible witness, the ruling said.

Bruyneel is banned from working in all sports to June 11, 2022. Celaya’s and Marti’s sanctions end on June 11, 2020. The AAA panel increased the standard four-year bans for trafficking or administering doping products because they were part of a wider conspiracy.

The sanctions date from June 2012 when USADA accused Armstrong and his teams of widespread doping.

Armstrong was stripped several weeks later of all of his post-August 1998 race results, including all seven Tour de France titles, and banned for life by USADA. Doctors Michele Ferrari and Luis Garcia del Moral also did not challenge USADA’s findings and lifetime bans.

In October 2012, USADA published its detailed verdict with hundreds of pages of evidence documenting the doping conspiracy, including witness statements from several Armstrong teammates.

At Bruyneel’s closed-door hearing in London, 17 witnesses provided testimony in person or by video link, including eight cyclists: Michael Barry, Tom Danielson, Tyler Hamilton, George Hincapie, Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie.

“Each witness testified that Mr. Bruyneel organized, assisted, and encouraged the use of doping for riders on those teams,” the panel ruling stated.

The panel said it did not consider testimony by Hamilton and Landis, who perjured themselves in previous cases examining their own doping, and because Landis has a financial conflict of interest with his whistleblower suit.

Celaya was doctor for the USPS/Discovery Channel team from 1997-98 and from 2004-07. He returned to work with Bruyneel at RadioShack Nissan Trek as the USADA investigation continued.

Marti worked for Bruyneel from 1999 to 2007 at USPS and Discovery Channel, and then with the Astana team.

USADA said that Marti worked “most recently” for the Denmark-based Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank, which is managed by 1996 Tour winner Bjarne Riis. Its star rider is Alberto Contador, who won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009 riding for teams directed by Bruyneel, then was stripped of the 2010 title after testing positive for clenbuterol.

Contador was mentioned in Marti’s defense to try to rebut Leipheimer’s testimony that the Spanish trainer extracted blood from the American rider after a June 2007 race in France.

“Mr. Marti also argued that he could not have been present for the 2007 blood transfusion after the Dauphine Libere because he was training with Alberto Contador at that time,” said the panel’s ruling, which dismissed the alibi for lack of supporting evidence.

Athletes

Meb Keflezighi’s Boston Marathon Win Is a Victory For Us All

Meb Keflezighi crosses the finish line of the 118th Boston Marathon on April 21, 2014 in Boston, Massachusetts. Jim Rogash—Getty Images

A year after the Boston Marathon bombings, the immigrant American's victory sends a strong, symbolic message to the perpetrators of that awful event

One year ago, two young immigrant men, fed up with the American way of life, allegedly terrorized the Boston Marathon. A year later, an old — by marathon-running standards — immigrant who has totally embraced his adopted country won the historic race, thrilling everyone in attendance. On the first running of the Boston Marathon since last year’s bombings, Meb Keflezighi is the perfect man for the moment.

The message this victory sends to the bombers is not subtle: Screw you. You squandered your opportunity, your chance at the American dream — which still exists, thank you. You blew it. This could have been you.

Keflezighi became the first American man to win a Boston Marathon since 1983. No one gave him much of a chance, given his age — he will turn 39 next month — and the reality that since 1991, a Kenyan has won the race 19 times.

But Keflezighi has surprised skeptics before. He won a silver medal in the Athens Olympics marathon in 2004, and in 2009 became the first American to win the New York City Marathon in 27 years. That win kindled a tortured debate about “real” Americanism; a CNBC.com commentary, entitled “Marathon’s Headline Win Is Empty,” said that “the fact that [Keflezighi] is not American-born takes away from the magnitude of the achievement … Nothing against Keflezighi, but he’s like a ringer you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league.” Comments on a running site included: “Give us all a break. It’s just another African marathon winner” and “Meb is not an American – case closed.”

Yes, Keflezighi was born in an Eritrean house with no electricity. But his family fled that country’s war with Ethiopia when he was still a young boy. “I ran my first mile here,” Keflezighi told me in a 2012 interview before the London Olympics, where he finished fourth in the marathon. “I didn’t know the sport was an option in Eritrea.” He ran cross country in grammar school and high school in San Diego, and at UCLA. He’s a product of the American running system.

CNBC.com, for its part, apologized after the flap. But all questions about Meb Keflezighi’s Americanism have surely been answered by now. Especially on this day. Last year, Keflezighi attended the race, but did not run: he left only about five minutes after the bombs went off. “When the bomb exploded, every day since I’ve wanted to come back and win it,” Keflezighi said afterwards, via USA Today. “I wanted to win it for the people of Boston. It’s beyond words.”

He doesn’t need them. A year later, Keflezighi’s win speaks louder than any bomb ever could.

cities

Newlywed Boston Marathon Bombing Survivors Finish Race Holding Hands

Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky each lost a leg in the bombings last year, only six months after getting married. One year later, they crossed the finish line together

Boston Marathon husband and wife bombing survivors Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, who each lost a leg in last year's bombings, roll across the finish line in the 118th Boston Marathon Monday, April 21, 2014 in Boston.
Boston Marathon husband and wife bombing survivors Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky, who each lost a leg in last year’s bombings, roll across the finish line in the 118th Boston Marathon, April 21, 2014 in Boston. Elise Amendola—AP

Patrick Downes and Jessica Kensky lost limbs as victims of the Boston Marathon bombing last year. One year on, they rolled across the finish line in wheelchairs, hand-in-hand.

After the first explosion on Boylston Street in 2013, the couple, watching the race together, suffered matching injuries: They each lost their left leg below the knee. Patrick’s memories of the crisis are murky but Jessica remembers the trauma clearly. In an interview with the Boston Globe, she recalled trying to block Patrick’s view from his own severed foot while a passerby extinguished her flaming clothes.

The couple recovered together, and returned to the marathon in 2014, side by side. “We’ve been married a year and a half,” Patrick told the Boston Globe, “but it’s like we have the knowledge of a couple that’s been married 10 years.”

College football

A Coach Is Cleared of Child-Porn Charges, but His Ordeal Drags On

Minnesota State–Mankato football coach Todd Hoffner mostly observed practice and did not take an active role, April 18, 2014, in Mankato, MN.
Minnesota State–Mankato football coach Todd Hoffner mostly observed practice and did not take an active role, April 18, 2014, in Mankato, MN. David Joles—Zumapress

In 2012, Minnesota State-Mankato's head football coach Todd Hoffner was charged with two felonies for photos of his own kids after a bubble bath. Now, with his name cleared and his job back, things still aren't "normal"

Todd Hoffner, the head football coach at Minnesota State-Mankato, a Division II school, can still recall that night he spent in jail. It was August 2012, and he had been arrested and charged with two felonies: using minors in a sexual performance or pornographic work, and possession of child pornography. That June, Jerry Sandusky had been found guilty of sexually abusing young boys while an assistant coach at Penn State. Colleges were on red alert, on the lookout for any sort of inappropriate contact between coaches and children.

But Hoffner knew his university—which had placed him on leave after a technician found videos of naked or partially clothed children on his Blackberry—had overreacted. And that the authorities had arrested him under false pretenses. “There was shock, fear, and I gradually worked myself towards resolve,” Hoffner says. “I set two goals for myself as I sat in that jail cell. I wanted to be exonerated from the criminal charges, and vindicated by my university.

“Now, it’s a clean sweep,” he adds. “Mission accomplished.”

Todd Hoffner is not a child molester. The videos on his phone were those of his own children. In dismissing the charges against him three months later, a judge labeled the videos “playful and silly.” They were taken after his kids, then ages 9, 8, and 5, had taken a bubble bath. And for the first time in two seasons, Todd Hoffner will coach the Minnesota State-Mankato football team this fall.

But Hoffner’s road to reclaiming his job, and reputation, was a borderline nightmare. And where Hoffner’s career—and the Minnesota State-Mankato football team—goes now will depend on how Hoffner, the school’s leadership and the players on the team react and adapt to circumstances that, even in the already weird world of college sports, are almost unprecedented in their awkwardness.

Because without Hoffner on the sidelines, Minnesota State-Mankato went 24-2 the last two years under interim coach Aaron Keen, and made two appearances in the Division II playoffs. Hoffner may be vindicated. But that doesn’t mean he’ll be embraced. “No doubt, there are a lot of emotions on both sides,” says Minnesota State-Mankato athletic director Kevin Buisman, who hired Hoffner in 2008. “I don’t think anyone knows what’s normal now. And it’s going to be a little while until we can define normal, or experience normal.”

Although the child pornography charges were dismissed, Minnesota State-Mankato suspended Hoffner for 20 days, then reassigned him to an administrative role. In May, Hoffner was fired for undisclosed reasons. The Mankato Free-Prees revealed that, according to an arbitrator’s report, the school accused Hoffner of viewing pornography on a work-issued computer and also allowed his wife to use the computer. Hoffner denied viewing pornography, and the arbitrator noted that other people could access the computer. The arbitrator also ruled that the use of the computer by Hoffner’s wife was not grounds for firing, and ordered the school to reinstate Hoffner as coach and repay him, with interest.

In the meantime, Hoffner had accepted a position as head coach at Minot (N.D.) State back in January. “We were down to our last few hundred dollars,” he says. “They gave us an opportunity to feed our family.” But the Hoffners had roots in Mankato, so they decided to accept his reinstatement. “The whole ordeal was the ultimate test of toughness,” Hoffner says. “Given all we went through, I think a lot of people would have surrendered.”

Hoffner returned to Minnesota State-Mankato last Tuesday. But on Wednesday, his players refused to practice, as a show of support for Keen. “That took us by surprise,” Buisman says. “We definitely turned to crisis management mode.” Says Hoffner: “The players wanted to have a voice, wanted to be heard. They were showing their loyalty to coach Keen. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

On Thursday, the players held a team meeting with Hoffner. Keen has a more personable, player-friendly coaching style than Hoffner—and over the past two seasons, that approached paid off on the field. “The overriding question from the players was, are you going to adapt to us, or are we going to adapt to you?” Busiman says. “And coach Hoffner acknowledged that it would be foolish to upset the apple cart.”

The players have returned to practice, with Hoffner doing more observing than coaching. They’ve pledged their support for Hoffner, who says he plans to meet with each player one-on-one. For now, Keen is the associate head coach, though given his success leading the Mavericks over the past two years, he’ll be scooped up as a head coach elsewhere, at some point.

“The situation is still tenuous,” Buisman says. “There’s no guidebook how to handle something like this.”

It’s public record: Todd Hoffner got railroaded in the post-Sandusky era. Minnesota State-Mankato probably wasn’t on your college football radar screen for September. Now maybe the Mavericks should be. They’ll be an easy team to root for.

Athletes

Meb Keflezighi Wins 2014 Boston Marathon

ATHLETICS-US-MARATHON-BOSTON
Meb Keflezighi of the US, celebrates after winning the Men's Elite division of the 118th Boston Marathon in Boston, Massachusetts April 21, 2014 . TIMOTHY A. CLARY—AFP/Getty Images

The 38-year-old became the first American to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years

Meb Keflezighi became the first American man to win the Boston Marathon since 1983 on Monday. He completed the race in 2:08:37.

Keflezighi has a long list of running achievements. He won a silver medal at the 2004 Athens Olympics marathon and in 2009 became the first American to win the New York City marathon in 27 years.

His win in Boston was unexpected: Keflezighi will turn 39 next month and many believed that his age would prevent him from beating out his foreign competitors. Since 1991, a Kenyan has won the Boston marathon 19 times.

Born in Eritrea, Keflezighi moved to the United States when he was 12 years old. When he won the New York City marathon, there was some debate over whether he was “really” American. A CNBC.com commentary claimed that claiming Keflezighi as American was like taking pride in “a ringer you hire to work a couple hours at your office so that you can win the executive softball league.”

But in a 2012 interview with TIME’s Sean Gregory, Keflezighi said he might not have become a runner had he not become an American citizen. “I ran my first mile here,” Keflezighi said. “I didn’t know the sport was an option in Eritrea.” The marathon champion learned to run cross-country in elementary school in San Diego and attended UCLA.

Keflezighi’s American pride was on display Monday as he made history just one year after the Boston Marathon bombings. After crossing the finish line, he raised his arms, looked up at the sky and kissed the ground three times before taking a bow, according to USA Today. He then began to cry. He didn’t race last year but watched in the stands, departing only five minutes before the bombs went off.

Keflezighi lives in San Diego with his wife and three daughters.

American Meb Keflezighi Wins Boston Marathon

(BOSTON) — American Meb Keflezighi has won the Boston Marathon, a year after a bombing at the finish line left three dead and more than 260 people injured.

Keflezighi is a former New York City Marathon champion and Olympic medalist. He ran the 26.2 miles from Hopkinton to the finish on Boylston Street in Boston’s Back Bay on Monday in 2 hours, 8 minutes, 37 seconds.

Keflezighi held off Wilson Chebet of Kenya who finished 11 seconds behind. The 38-year-old from San Diego looked over his shoulder several times over the final mile. After realizing he wouldn’t be caught, he raised his sunglasses, began pumping his right fist and made the sign of the cross.

No U.S. runner had won the race since Lisa Larsen-Weidenbach took the women’s title in 1985; the last American man to win was Greg Meyer in 1983.

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