J Robinson and the University of Minnesota have reached an impasse in discussions over the longtime wrestling coach’s exit and potential buyout, sources close to the talks told the Star Tribune.
With negotiations stalled, Gophers athletic director Mark Coyle summoned Robinson for a meeting, sources said, which took place late Monday afternoon.
The sources also said the university’s internal investigation into Robinson’s handling of the alleged use and sale of the prescription sedative Xanax by Gophers wrestlers is complete, with a report on the matter expected to be released to the public as soon as Tuesday — nearly three months after the first reports of an alleged drug problem permeating Robinson’s team earlier this year.
Robinson, a national championship-winning coach of 30 years, was put on paid administrative leave June 1 by Coyle on his first day on the job, while the university extended its investigation.
University spokesman Evan Lapiska said Monday morning there was no update on the school’s investigation of Robinson.
The university’s general counsel and Robinson’s representatives have met at least three times in recent weeks, according to sources on both sides, but talks have stalled for now.
The Hennepin County attorney’s office announced in June that charges would not be pursued against Robinson or wrestlers in connection with the suspected selling of Xanax.
Assistant Brandon Eggum, a former Gophers All-America, was named acting head wrestling coach by Coyle earlier this month. Coyle said then that the program needed “clear” and “continued leadership” going into the 2016-17 season.
Robinson, 70, is one of the most successful coaches in Gophers history. He has coached multiple national champions and led the Gophers to their only three team national titles.
Helping or hurting?
An anonymous Gophers wrestler reported to university police on April 8 that 14 members of the team were using and selling 500 to 1,000 pills of Xanax on campus. The wrestler told police that Robinson knew of the situation and he offered “amnesty” to two wrestlers if they wrote letters of apology and disposed of the drugs.
According to a search warrant affidavit, Robinson met with university police April 12 but refused to provide them with names, documents and other information pertinent to the investigation. The coach said he’d provide extensive information to police in exchange for “immunity” for his athletes.
“He said [to police], ‘Listen, I’m not going to work with you,’ ” Robinson’s attorney, Ryan Kaess, said in June. “ ‘Why are you ostensibly coming after these kids? We need to help them — not hang a felony around their necks.’ ”
A search warrant directed at both Robinson and the 14 wrestlers alleged to be involved was served April 15. Investigators seized three computers, a DVD drive, 15 storage drives and an iPhone from Robinson’s office at the Bierman Field Athletic Building, according to the warrant.
James C.W. Bock, Robinson’s agent, has said the coach sought advice from his superiors, including then-interim athletic director Beth Goetz, and followed university policy. “He was trying to help these students; he notified personnel,” Bock told WCCO-AM earlier this summer.
Robinson remains under contract through 2020, at $146,000 per year.