MINNEAPOLIS (AP) The University of Minnesota has opened its own probe of the wrestling program as campus police investigate a team member's disputed allegation that the head coach covered up his wrestlers' sale and use of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
One wrestler, speaking on condition of anonymity to the Star Tribune, told the Minneapolis newspaper last week that Robinson collected hundreds of Xanax pills from members of the team without reporting the issue to police or the university. The anonymous wrestler said in the interview that he told the police himself about the alleged drug ring.
James C.W. Bock, the attorney for Robinson, issued a statement denying a cover-up by his client. He said Robinson informed athletic department superiors ''through multiple channels'' earlier this year of his suspicion that team members were using the drugs.
Robinson followed department policy in late February or early March by notifying his direct supervisor in the athletic department as well as interim athletic director Beth Goetz of his belief team members were using drugs and stated his desire to have specific wrestlers tested, Bock said.
According to Bock, Robinson completed a ''reasonable suspicion testing form'' and had testing conducted on or around March 21. The wrestlers were not tested for Xanax, however. Goetz e-mailed the university's 20-page drug and alcohol policy to Robinson on March 25, and Robinson informed university staff of specific concerns.
''As of this date no specific person or identifiable employee of the university has made a statement of fact that can be corroborated,'' Bock said in his statement. He added: ''Coach Robinson has earned respect over the past thirty years as one of the most honorable, loyal and successful coaches in university history. Coach Robinson's accomplishments and loyalty to the university, to his teams, to the hundreds of student athletes he has coached, and to his fans, and detractors, would seem to be lost at this time.''
Spokesman Evan Lapiska said Tuesday that the university's own investigation had begun.
''The alleged serious behavior in our wrestling program, if true, is unacceptable and will not be tolerated,'' Lapiska said in a statement. ''At the request of authorities we initially delayed a thorough internal investigation until the University of Minnesota Police Department's work had concluded so as to not compromise the ongoing criminal investigation. In close coordination with UMPD, we have received approval to initiate the internal investigation.''
Robinson has spent 30 years coaching the program, winning three national championships. He signed a contract extension last summer through 2020.
The alleged drug ring was first reported last week by Twin Cities television station KMSP. In the interview with the Star Tribune, the anonymous wrestler said four of his teammates collected about 2,500 pills for the purpose of selling them for $8 per pill, or $5 for team members.
According to the wrestler, Robinson called a team meeting upon learning of the issue and asked for the Xanax pills to dispose of them in exchange for ''amnesty.'' About 1,400 pills were turned in to Robinson, the wrestler said, and the rest were dumped in the river.