J Robinson, U wrestling cleared by internal investigation

A University of Minnesota investigation found that wrestling coach J Robinson’s real estate transactions did not violate NCAA rules.


Robert Downs

University of Minnesota wrestling coach J Robinson did not violate NCAA rules by purchasing and selling real estate from and to former wrestlers, according to a five-month internal University investigation made public on Friday. The investigation was triggered and based on a Minnesota Daily article which reported that Robinson sold houses to at least two former team members, who are now assistant coaches, and bought property from two other former wrestlers. The story raised questions on whether Robinson used real estate as a recruiting incentive. Although it was found that Robinson gave loans to and made deals with wrestling staff members and soon-to-be staff members, the report stated it was not because they were former student-athletes in his program. Conducted by the UniversityâÄôs Athletic Compliance Office, the investigation consisted of interviews with current and former wrestling administrative staff and coaches, as well as all current wrestlers. The University also reviewed property sales documents and interviewed former wrestlers, but only for the transactions mentioned in the December 10 story. As a result, the inquiry confirmed the articleâÄôs facts but found little outside of the newspaperâÄôs reports. âÄúThis is not a criminal investigation by the FBI,âÄù said University General Council Mark Rotenberg, whose office oversaw the investigation. âÄúThe evidence showed that Coach Robinson helped out wrestling staff members regardless of whether they were student-athletes and had done well in his program.âÄù At less than six pages in length, the report expounded on most of the issues outlined in the Daily article, though names and personally identifiable information were redacted. The report, signed by Gophers Athletic Director Joel Maturi, was submitted to the NCAA May 14. If the NCAA feels the investigation was inadequate, Rotenberg said, it could recommend that the University take a deeper look into certain situations or send its own team to investigate, neither of which the Office of the General Council expects to happen, Rotenberg said. From recruit to client The Daily reported that in one case Marty Morgan, a former assistant coach and recruiting coordinator, acted as the real estate agent when current wrestler Sonny Yohn purchased a house in early 2009. Morgan, who left the team in 2008, recruited Yohn out of high school. The University concluded that âÄúafter interviews with all of the parties involved, it became clear that no extra benefits were provided in the real estate relationship.âÄù Yohn told the Daily in an interview that he had discussed real estate with Robinson during the recruiting process, though he could not recall the conversationâÄôs context. The University’s report stated âÄúit was clear that property transactions with coaching staff members were not discussed in the recruiting process,âÄù but did not acknowledge that discussion in its report. The report stated that at times âÄúthe wrestling coaching staff discussed the benefits of owning property near campus with parents of prospective student-athletes as a cost-saving measure,âÄù which does not constitute an NCAA violation. Rotenberg, who was not fully briefed on the report, said he did not know why the discussion was left out. Speaking generally, he noted that real estate discussions in the recruiting process would raise questions. âÄúIf Coach Robinson had discussed these kinds of real estate benefits during the recruiting process? Yes, absolutely we would have a different case,âÄù he said. Robinson did not immediately return calls for comment. Check mndaily.com for more updates.