Ethan Lizak was one of four Gopher wrestlers suspended (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)
Four University of Minnesota wrestlers have been suspended until Jan. 1, 2017 for their alleged involvement in this summer's drug investigation, according to multiple media reports Wednesday.
The wrestlers -- Tommy Thorn, Ethan Lizak, Larry Early and Brandon Krone -- have been suspended "for violation of team rules" according to a spokesman for the school's athletic department. Early is a redshirt freshman; the others are registered redshirt sophomores.
Thorn, a returning NCAA qualifier, earned a No. 7 ranking at 141 pounds in InterMat's NCAA Division I preseason rankings. Lizak, an NCAA qualifier in 2015 who redshirted last season, comes into this season ranked No. 11 at 125 pounds.
The athletes are suspended only from competing. They can attend class and can practice with the team, spokesman Jake Ricker said.
University officials would not confirm if these suspensions are related to the drug investigation.
While the wrestling season starts in November, most matches for the upcoming season will take place in 2017.
News of the university's drug investigation broke in late May 2016. In InterMat's first story, titled "Minnesota wrestlers investigated for selling, using Xanax" -- dated May 26 -- reported that four University of Minnesota wrestlers were being investigated for selling the prescription anti-anxiety drug Xanax, while head coach J Robinson was being investigated for how he may have tried to handle the situation internally. On June 1, coach Robinson was suspended with pay.
On June 24, Hennepin County prosecutors declined to charge any Minnesota wrestlers with selling Xanax, citing "insufficient evidence at this time." Despite that announcement, university police continued its investigation. One week later, Minnesota announced that Brandon Eggum has been named the acting head coach of the school's wrestling program. On Sept. 7, Robinson was fired after 30 years of service; Eggum was named interim head coach.