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University of Minnesota: Gopher Wrestling Facing Some Tough Questions on Alleged Prescription Drug Abuses

The Gopher Wrestling program is taking some heat with allegations and an investigation into prescription drug use/abuse along with selling of the drug Xanax.

A wrestler on the team spoke to the Star Tribune's Joe Christensen and Amelia Rayno saying that there were four players on the team who,

"Had a stash of 2,500 Xanax pills they had obtained in the mail from a former teammate and were selling them from the 17th Avenue Hall dormitory on campus.

"It was $5 a pill for anyone on the team and $8 for anyone else," said the source, who estimates that 10 to 12 members of the team were abusing Xanax. He said wrestlers also sold pills to athletes from other Gophers sports."

The story goes on to describe how Coach Jay Robinson tried to handle the problem of internal usage as well as illegally selling the drugs internally.

In late March, less than one week after the season ended, Robinson called a team meeting, the source said.

"We thought it was a typical meeting with J," the source said. "But then he started saying, ‘I know who’s taking the pills, I know who’s selling them, I know who’s stealing them.’

"He said, ‘It’s Easter weekend. I’ll be in my office Friday, Saturday and Sunday. If you’re involved, come and tell me. If you have any pills, bring them to my office and I’ll dispose of them, and I’ll give you amnesty.’ "

"Half of it went in the river, and half of it went to J. I know for a fact the people who were selling it dumped it and gave him about 1,400 [pills]."

Coach Robinson also ordered suspected players to undergo urine testing and had them write a paper on how the player felt when caught by "letting yourself, your teammates, your parents down, how did it feel and do you want to feel that way again?" And also on what the player learned and what are they going to do differently.

There is an ongoing, police investigation into the entire matter.  The University really has not commented other than to say they are cooperating with authorities.

My Take

There are really two significant storylines here.

The first is the drug use, abuse and then selling of the drugs.  All are pretty significant problems that need to be cleaned up.  The authorities will handle the investigation into the illegal activities here and I fully expect that the players involved will be punished appropriately in the real world and it would seem that their chances of wrestling for the Gophers again is slim.

The second is what do you do with Coach Robinson?  Based on what little we know it appears he was trying to handle this matter on his own and trying to not involve the authorities.  Should he have alerted illegal activities to the authorities?  The easy answer to that is, "yes!"  But my question really is around his intent. Was he trying to come down hard on these kids, set them straight and spare them getting something like this on their record; potentially ruining their lives?  Or was he trying to cover up an issue and save his own ass and the program? My hunch is the former but maybe it was the latter and he, like the players, had a lapse in judgment leading to decisions that eventually cause more harm than good.

And finally...what comes next?  The players involved are certainly being investigated and then the University is going to have to make a decision on what to do with J Robinson.  There is little doubt that his actions, by not alerting authorities, is a breach of his contract by failing to report this violation of the law.

Stay tuned...more to come as this plays out.