Underage athletes drinking probe stalls 3 months later

by Lora Pabst

The University still is investigating allegations that underage Gophers menís hockey players were drinking last fall at Blarney Pub and Grill.

The process is moving slowly because the University doesnít normally investigate underage drinking and officials are asked to cooperate with the city of Minneapolisí liquor license investigation into Blarney, officials said.

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg said he expected the investigation to be completed by now but there is still evidence that needs to be evaluated.

The unique nature of the investigation is causing some of the holdups, he said.

ìWe donít typically investigate issues relating to underage drinking,” Rotenberg said. ìOur Office of Athletics Compliance people donít focus on that.”

Part of the investigation includes looking at whether hockey players accepted improper benefits from the pub, which might constitute an National Collegiate Athletic Association violation.

If there are any violations of NCAA or University policies, the appropriate institution will be notified to determine further action, Rotenberg said.

The investigation also has been slowed by the city of Minneapolisí concurrent liquor license investigation of Blarney owner Mike Mulrooney, University spokesman Daniel Wolter wrote in an e-mail.

ìObviously we want to make sure their investigation is complete before closing ours, as there might be information to be shared,” he wrote.

Lt. Robert Skomra, commander of the Minneapolis police license investigations division, said the cityís investigation into Blarney is ongoing but is expected to be complete in ìa month or so.”

Skomra said the investigation is different from most because the allegations were made by an outside source, a Fox 9 News undercover investigation.

ìThis was brought in by outside sources, so we had to gather info ourselves,” he said.

During a search of Blarney, Gophers athletics paraphernalia, including autographed menus and hockey pucks, posters and photographs of athletes, were confiscated, according to the Hennepin County search warrant.

Mulrooney said these items were used to decorate the bar.

A piece of paper labeled ìbeer pong” with student-athletesí names also was found.

This was from a weekly beer pong competition held at the bar, Mulrooney said.

He said he would not comment on the investigation until it is finished, but said he is willing to cooperate with authorities if they contact him.

ìI havenít been able to cooperate with the investigation,” Mulrooney said. ìThey wonít talk to me.”