The University of Minnesota on Wednesday fired longtime Gophers wrestling coach J Robinson, who’s been on paid administrative leave since June 1 over allegations that his wrestlers were dealing prescription drugs. In a dismissal letter, administrators said he “engaged in multiple acts of misconduct.”
Robinson has been Minnesota’s wrestling coach for 30 years, since 1986, and has led the Gophers to three national championships, coached 14 individual National Champions and six Big Ten team titles, among others. In May, KMSP FOX9, a local TV station, reported four wrestlers in Robinson’s program were under investigation for dealing Xanax to other students for $5 a pill.
Minnesota Athletic Director Mark Coyle placed Robinson on paid administrative leave during his first day on the job.
Here is what you need to know about Robinson being removed from his job:
1. Robinson Was Fired for ‘Multiple Acts of Serious Misconduct’
In a two-page letter to Robinson, dated Sept. 7, AD Coyle said Robinson was being terminated after an internal investigation revealed the wrestling coach was engaging in “multiple acts of serious misconduct.”
Coyle said Robinson failed to disclose information regarding his team’s drug-selling activity, that he told wrestlers to hand over the prescription pills and, instead of informing law enforcement, disposed of the pills himself; Coyle also alleged Robinson was not cooperative with the investigation:
“You disobeyed reasonable directives from me and the University to share information regarding the drug related activities of Wrestling team members,” the letter states. “Although you have the information, you refused to say which student athletes were involved in selling drugs. You have also declined to answer other questions asked of you regarding your actions in this matter.”
“He was not forthcoming with his superiors,” Coyle said in a news conference Wednesday afternoon, adding later: “Furthermore, he did not fully cooperate with our investigation… he did not answer some of our most critical questions.”
2. Robinson Knew His Wrestlers Were Dealing Prescription Drugs, According to Reports
FOX 9 reported in May that Robinson knew about his wrestlers using and dealing Xanax, but didn’t take appropriate corrective action. Instead, the station reported, Robinson “ordered mandatory urine testing and told his players if they wrote a one-page personal essay about what they had done, they’d be ‘granted amnesty.'”
That report states police interviewed Robinson and he told them he knew about the drug use — but he had taken care of it.
Coyle’s dismissal letter said Robinson was “not authorized” to make those deals. Robinson also hadn’t refuted the allegations, Coyle contends.
3. Robinson Will Be Replaced by Brandon Eggum, Who Has Been an Assistant for 5 Years & Wrestled for the Ex-Coach
Brandon Eggum was named Gophers’ acting coach in early August, after Robinson was put on administrative leave in June. Eggum was a three-time All America wrestler during his time as an athlete at Minnesota, according to the Star Tribune.
Eggum was promoted Wednesday from “acting” to “interim” coach, Coyle announced.
Eggum won the 184-pound Big 10 championships in 1999 and 2000.
4. Robinson Was Making a Base Salary of $140,000 & Runs Intensive Camp
Before his contract was terminated Wednesday, Robinson was making a base salary of $140,077 through April 2016, according to the Pioneer Press. The contract extension was named in 2012.
Robinson also runs a number of intensive camps for young athletes. The Minnesota Secretary of State lists basketball, hockey and wrestling intensive camps as registered businesses through 2017. Robinson’s “J Robinson Wrestling Products” is registered through 2019.
Because part of Robinson’s administrative leave included him not being allowed on the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities campus, his wrestling camp was moved 35 miles away to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls.
5. Robinson is Married & Has 2 Kids
Robinson married Sue Rubens in 2000 and he has two children — son Jeb and daughter Jordan — all who live in the Twin Cities area.
Rubens has been a runner, joking with the Running Minnesota blog that Robinson is a rival Wisconsin Badger at heart:
“J knew he married a gal whose blood runs Badger red! He is a good sport about it and endures the grief he gets from U of M athletes and staff when he has to use my car with all of the Badger fan fare on it. For my 40th birthday last year he surprised me with a party at Camp Randall football stadium complete with a visit from Bucky Badger so I secretly think he yearns to be a Badger!
Rubens has also been active in Robinson’s wrestling camps, including being the point-person for prospective camp employees.