Minnesota fires wrestling coach after athletes drug scandal

Published 8:18 am Thursday, September 8, 2016

MINNEAPOLIS — Longtime Minnesota wrestling coach J Robinson was fired Wednesday after the university said an investigation into an alleged drug ring within the program revealed that he “failed to disclose information regarding drug-related activity” on the team and made unauthorized promises of amnesty to his athletes.

Robinson coached the Gophers for 30 years and led the team to three national championships, carving out a reputation as a hard-charging, outspoken and occasionally combative figure on campus. He enjoyed as much success as any Gophers coach of his era, but was embroiled in a drug scandal this spring when police investigated allegations that more than a dozen wrestlers sold and used the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.

Police declined to file charges in the case, citing a lack of evidence.

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In a letter written to Robinson on Wednesday, new athletic director Mark Coyle said that the coach “disobeyed reasonable directives from me and university to share information regarding drug activities of team members.” Coyle also said that Robinson told his wrestlers to turn the drugs in to him and the coach then disposed of those drugs and that during interviews with university investigators, Robinson refused to answer the most important questions asked of him.

“You have not accepted responsibility or expressed remorse for your conduct,” Coyle wrote to Robinson. “As a result, I cannot trust you to refrain from such conduct in the future.”

The Associated Press left messages for Robinson’s agent and attorney seeking comment.

“I do not intend to address each inaccuracy and/or omission in the report because there are far too many,” Robinson wrote to the university in a response provided by school officials. “For now, suffice it to say that the report sacrifices accuracy to create a narrative to support a pre-determined outcome to find fault with me and exculpate the university and senior employees in the athletic department.”

Robinson denied that he promised his wrestlers amnesty for coming forward to him and said he did comply with university regulations and informed his superiors, including former interim athletic director Beth Goetz, of the drug issues within his team.