MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The long-time coach of the University of Minnesota Gophers wrestling team says a university investigation into him and his program is complete.
J Robinson is speaking for the first time since allegations surfaced that some wrestlers used and sold the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
It started with him becoming suspicious. According to Robinson, he made people above him at the university aware of what he was doing, leading to a test he administered for the entire team.
“They said that the only thing you could do is test the entire team. But the athletic department wouldn’t pay for it,” Robinson said. “So I ended up having to use my service fund, where the donors give us money, to pay for the drug testing.”
When the results came back, he called certain wrestlers in. Where the confusion starts is: Did he have the authority to promise help?
“I go in and I tell them that I will give them amnesty,” Robinson said. “Meaning that I will not punish them or kick them off the team…if they come in and tell me whatever the problem is that they’re having.”
Did he overstep his bounds by doing that?
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think that the policy at the university that I’ve been trained on for 30 years is that things to do with medical conditions are confidential.”
The 800 pound gorilla in all this seems to be, did some wrestlers come in and pour a bunch of drugs on Robinson’s desk? And if they did, did he dispose of them or what happened?
“Anything that has to do with what happens between me and the athlete goes back to the same thing that I told the athletes. It’s confidential. So, no matter what happened between me and the athletes, it’s a confidential thing,” Robinson said. “And that’s what I promised them when they came in. And that’s what they have to feel like in order to come in. Because without that confidentiality, without that trust — you break that trust, you have nothing.”
He believes he followed all the university’s policies. What he maintains he won’t do is run from this problem — that he too is accountable.
“Leadership is, at what level, take responsibility, make a decision,” he said. “But you’re not going to be crucified because you make a decision.”
What bothers him about investigation reports he has seen but we have not is that he maintains the university administration takes no blame.
“The report that they’ve given me is 31 pages long and in it there’s a lot of things that are pointed — half truths, half innuendos,” he said. “There’s not one thing in there of responsibility from the university or the athletic department.”
What he believes is that he did what he thought was best for his athletes.
“These kids come here and they’re young and they’re impressive and they make mistakes. Your job is to help them,” said Robinson. “And not only help them when they win the national tournament, but help them when they do incredibly stupid stuff.”
So, does Robinson think he will be the head coach at the University of Minnesota this season?
“I want to be the coach next year,” he said. “I should be the coach next year because I think that what I did is I followed their policy and I did what they’re supposed to do.”
WCCO did reach out to the University of Minnesota. A spokesperson said the investigation is ongoing and because of that they declined to comment.