Minnesota wrestlers investigated for selling, using Xanax

Four University of Minnesota wrestlers are being investigated for selling the prescription drug Xanax and ten others are suspected of using the anti-anxiety drug, while head coach J Robinson is being investigated for how he may have tried to handle the situation internally, according to a news report from KMSP-TV Fox 9, the Fox affiliate in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Tuesday.

The KMSP-TV Fox 9 Investigators story also alleged that an informant told University of Minnesota Police the wrestlers were selling what they called "Zanny" for $5 a pill to individuals who used the drug with caffeinated sports energy drinks to get high.

In addition, Fox 9 reported that campus police are investigating a series of post-season team meetings in March, where long-time head wrestling coach J Robinson allegedly ordered mandatory urine testing, telling his wrestlers if they wrote a one-page personal essay about what they had done, they'd be "granted amnesty."

Minnesota coach J Robinson coaching at the 2016 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)
In April, Robinson allegedly sent a text to his wrestlers, saying, in part, "remember that paper is due on my desk by tomorrow evening. #1 What emotions you're feeling by getting caught? #2 What did you learn from this? #3 What are you going to do different, your plan, so it doesn't happen again."

KMSP-TV stated that university police interviewed Robinson at his office on campus in April. The coach reportedly told them he was aware of narcotics use on the team, and he had fully taken care of the issues. He would not provide the essays or the names of those involved to police, unless they were granted immunity.

When KMSP-TV contacted Robinson by phone last week, he didn't deny an investigation, but said "it's all data practices," referring to Minnesota's open public records law.

KSTP-TV, the ABC affiliate for the Twin Cities, reported Wednesday that the alleged drug-related incidents took place between January and March, 2016.

Late Wednesday night, the Star-Tribune reported that an unidentified Minnesota wrestler told the paper that Robinson collected about 1,400 Xanax pills that members of his team were ready to sell, yet did not report the drug issue to police.

The wrestler, who spoke to the Star-Tribune on the condition of anonymity, said he talked to police about Robinson's handling of the team's Xanax issue.

"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.

While efforts to reach Robinson have been unsuccessful, the school's press department has issued statements.

"The University takes allegations of this nature seriously, and upon receiving information the University provided it to UMPD (University of Minnesota Police Department)," spokesperson Evan Lapiska wrote in a statement to the Star-Tribune. "In consultation with UMPD, the University is allowing for the legal investigation to conclude before conducting its own internal investigation. As it remains part of an active investigation, we do not have anything additional to share at this time."

Lapiska said that Robinson remains an active employee of the university. The spokesman added that incoming athletic director Mark Coyle is aware of the investigation and is monitoring it.

Lapiska also made clear that any information on student discipline would remain private, in compliance with FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law which prohibits colleges and universities from releasing personally identifiable information derived from education records, including information regarding student disciplinary matters, even in cases of nationally-recognized student-athletes.

Xanax is a brand name for alprazolam, a prescription drug which is used to treat anxiety disorders, panic disorders, and anxiety caused by depression, according to First introduced in 1969 by Upjohn (now Pfizer), Xanax is the 12th most widely prescribed medication in the U.S.

Xanax is not considered to be a performance enhancer. Nor is it a banned substance according to the NCAA. Therefore, any alleged use of Xanax on the part of student-athletes may not violate NCAA rules.

Wrestling has been on the roster at University of Minnesota since 1919. During that time, the Golden Gophers have won three NCAA team titles: 2001, 2002 and 2007. J Robinson was named head coach in 1986, making him the second-longest serving in Minnesota mat history (behind Wally Johnson, who was at the helm for 34 seasons immediately before J Rob). In his 30 seasons as head coach, Robinson has guided the Gophers to an overall record of 440-145-4, for a .747 winning percentage, the highest of any wrestling coach at the school.


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Paboy593 (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Lets be honest about this. Yes drugs are everywhere. But if this happenes at psu coach cael would have dismissed anyone involved. There is no room for covering up something like this. Cael Sanderson wouldn't have it. Yes J Rob protected like a father, but the thing is he isn't their father's. He is their coach. He is in a position to teach life long lessons and protect his university's integrity. This to me just goes to show how badly Minnesota wants to get back on top. But it won't happen until they cut the dead weight and get back to what creates champion's. Xanax is a very dangerous drug. Its withdrawal can be fatal. These students aren't doctors. If this were regular students involved they would have been dismissed from school and possibly arrested. An I'm sorry note just doesn't cut it. I wonder what effect this will have on Mu's recrtuiting. We all know Robinson is one of the great coaches of all time. But we also know how handling a scandal can end up killing a legacy. See Joe paterno. No I'm not saying the crimes were on the same level, but there's no way these actions should have been ignored and pushed under the rug. Mark halls father is probably patting himself on the back right now.
LoneWolf (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Paboy, you must have been born yesterday. A few years ago, about HALF of Penn State's team had been arrested for various crimes, mostly assaults, drunk driving, and public intoxication. But he had All-American wrestlers who BEAT UP A COP and another who had already been kicked out of another college (and ended up raping a woman at Penn St.) - and Cael Sanderson was fine with them. He may act differently now that he's won several national titles and would now get rid of athletes like that, but in the past Cael had lower ethical standards than other coaches and just wanted to win.
dob092095 (1) about 5 and a half years ago
Mr Lonewolf, you are confusing the issue, and you are equating apples and oranges. Public drunkenness and fighting are of course wrong. I think you overstate the numbers involved but that isn't why I am writing.
In each case you mention, the law was involved and the players were punished. J Robb needs to go and probably should do some jail time because he tried to cover up illegal activity. Covering up illegal activity with writing on the blackboard - I will not be bad. It's one thing to do this for the wrestlers who bought a pill. I don't want to fry them. The ones who were dealing - police referral and maybe jail time. I heard 2500 pills or more at 8, that's $20000, that's not small time dealing. He was going to keep these guys on the team. And worse is the former teammate who sold them the drugs, he needs to go down hard. Did J Robb turn him in? I have a friend who has a friend who did 2 years for selling less than $20k.

After the legal system processes them, if J Robb wants to forgive them with team punishment as Cael did, I say good. But comparing the two coaches behavior is silly.
Paboy593 (1) about 5 and a half years ago
I think not lonewolf. What happened to Andrew long. Kicked off team. What happened to the Altona when they were busted. Suspended immediately. Make sure u get it facts straight before u comment. And I would hardly equate wrestlers fighting and drinking off season with a confirmed drug ring in the thick of the season??
ElineAnna (1) about 5 years ago
J Robb needs to go and probably should do some jail time because he tried to cover up illegal activity. Covering up illegal activity with writing on the blackboard - I will not be bad. It's one thing to do this for the wrestlers who bought a pill. I don't want to fry them. The ones who were dealing - police referral and maybe jail time. I heard 2500 pills or more at 8, that's $20000, that's not small time dealing.