Drug investigation ensnares University of Minnesota wrestlers

The University of Minnesota police department is investigating allegations that several Golden Gophers wrestlers have been involved in selling and using drugs.

The school has provided information to the police for use in the investigation, a university spokesman said Thursday.

The Star Tribune of Minneapolis quoted an anonymous wrestler on the team who said coach J Robinson found out about the wrestlers’ plans to sell the anti-anxiety prescription drug Xanax. The newspaper reports that Robinson collected about 1,400 pills from his wrestlers and did not report the issue to the university or to the police.

“The university takes allegations of this nature seriously, and upon receiving information the university provided it to UMPD,” Minnesota spokesman Evan Lapiska said. “In consultation with UMPD, the university is allowing for the legal investigation to conclude before conducting its own internal investigation.”

Robinson has spent 30 years coaching the Gophers wrestlers and has won three national championships. The Associated Press left a message with him seeking comment.

It’s the latest troubling allegation to emerge from the Gophers athletic department. Former athletic director Norwood Teague resigned in disgrace last year after a sexual harassment scandal, the men’s basketball team has dealt with several off-the-court incidents with its players and the school hired Syracuse athletic director Mark Coyle earlier this month to clean up the mess.

The anonymous wrestler told The Star Tribune that four of his teammates had about 2,500 pills of Xanax that they planned to sell out of their campus dormitory. When Robinson found out about it, he called a team meeting to tell the wrestlers to bring him the drugs and he would dispose of them and ordered mandatory urine tests.

Robinson has been a lightning rod figure on campus for decades, both for his incredible success in building the wrestling program into one of the best in the nation and for his outspoken and controversial nature.

He has long been a critic of Title IX, which was enacted to provide equal opportunities for men and women on campuses, saying that women’s teams received unfair advantages over men’s teams.

The school once investigated Robinson for forcing participants in his wrestling camp to write an anti-Title IX letter to send to elected officials.

He was also investigated in 2005 after three high school players were treated at a hospital after becoming overheated in a late-night workout at a hockey camp overseen by Robinson. He also ran youth camps for basketball and wrestling.

Robinson signed a contract extension last summer that runs through 2020.

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