The drug abuse controversy that started one week ago within the University of Minnesota wrestling team escalated again Tuesday, with the school launching its own internal investigation just as coach J Robinson’s agent called out university leaders.
Robinson’s agent, James C.W. Bock, issued a statement late Monday disputing allegations that Robinson acted improperly in self-policing the team’s drug issue. On Tuesday, he wrote to the Star Tribune in a text message: “I have no further comment until the University starts telling the truth about what it knows.”
University President Eric Kaler was not made available for an interview Tuesday regarding Bock’s claims, but the university did provide a statement: “There will be no detailed updates or interviews while there is an investigation because there simply isn’t anything further that we can share.”
University police are investigating the alleged drug abuse, and Kaler wrote in a statement last week: “The alleged serious behavior, if true, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”
A Gophers wrestler told the Star Tribune last week four teammates were selling the prescription sedative Xanax earlier this year, and that about 10-12 members of the team were abusing the drug. The wrestler, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Robinson learned of this and offered to grant them amnesty if they confessed to him in written essays.
The university’s statement Tuesday did say the school now will open its own parallel investigation: “In close coordination with UMPD, we have received approval to initiate the internal investigation, and it is our intention to fully investigate the concerning allegations involving our students and staff.”
Robinson has not responded to phone calls and messages since the investigation was first reported last week by Fox 9 News.
Monday night’s statement from Bock said, “In late February/early March, Coach Robinson became suspicious members of the University of Minnesota wrestling team were using drugs. … Coach Robinson notified his direct supervisor within the Athletic Department of his concerns.”
The statement said Robinson “specifically notified the interim Athletic Department Director as well, and of his desire to have specific wrestlers tested.”
The interim AD was Beth Goetz, and Robinson’s direct supervisor at the time was Senior Associate AD Marc Ryan.
Gophers athletics leaders could not comment, per the same university practice on commenting on open investigations, a U spokesman said. New athletic director Mark Coyle, whose first day on the job was Tuesday, is scheduled to make his first public appearance Wednesday at the Gopher Road Trip event in Hutchinson, Minn.
Bock’s statement Monday called out the lack of “instructions” given to Robinson “on how to deal with the consequences of its testing results” after he requested drug testing for wrestlers “on or about” March 21. It was days later, on March 25, Robinson received an e-mail from Goetz with the university’s 20-page drug and alcohol policy, the statement said.
Although there are tests that identify benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Bock’s statement said the U did not test for Xanax.
Bock’s statement does not address the allegations by the wrestler that Robinson told his team he knew who was buying and selling drugs or that he confiscated the pills, only that he was suspicious they were “using drugs.”
The wrestler said four Gophers had acquired 2,500 Xanax pills, which they priced at $5 per pill for anyone on the team and $8 for anyone else. He said the wrestlers turned over 1,400 Xanax pills to Robinson and the rest went “in the river.”