… in the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the most charitable description of what’s been going on at the clubby University of Minnesota medical school would be “bizarre.”
Thursday, May 27, 2010
Does a Self-Investigation
of J Robinson's Real Estate Dealings:
More Questions Than Answers
A recent U investigation leaves the door opened to one from the NCAA.
The University of Minnesota’s investigation of the suspicious real estate transactions within the University’s wrestling program revealed, to use a coach’s idiom, a lack of character on behalf of the University.
The final product of the investigation was a poorly written six-page report that understandably invoked the NCAA statute of limitations on the few cases it analyzed. It ultimately reflected the investigation itself: a lazy affair that left more questions than answers.
It was lazy because the University found it sufficient to look into just the findings of a December Minnesota Daily article that prompted the University’s investigation and nothing more. The Daily investigation — the result of several years’ worth of reporting from various editorial employees — focused on a handful of questionable cases. We are wondering whether there were more.
The report left more questions than answers because it was primarily based on interviews with members of the wrestling program without providing the specific content of those interviews.
We’d be hard-pressed to call into question the honesty of the interviewees’ responses, since we do not know what they were. The report does take measures to mention that the interviewees — who included former and all current wrestlers along with wrestling staff members — cooperated with the investigation. The introduction claims all interviewees “were cooperative and appeared forthright.” And the conclusion states, “At no time did anyone appear evasive or untruthful.” We want to know what questions the University asked and what responses the interviewees gave.
Yet we do not have to know the content of the University’s interview with J Robinson — the central figure of the investigation — to doubt its veracity.
Robinson unreservedly lied to The Minnesota Daily. When asked about the transactions last year, he first stated, “I haven’t sold any houses to anybody, and they haven’t bought any houses from me, so there’s no story there.”
The case of All-American wrestler Sonny Yohn provides some clues. Yohn, who was ranked the second best high school wrestler in the nation by at least one publication, told the Daily that Robinson discussed real estate with him during the recruiting process — although Yohn was apparently unaware of the context of the conversation. Yohn joined the Gophers in 2007, and in August 2009, with his name still on the roster, the second-year student purchased a property in the Lauderdale neighborhood, with the help of former wrestling coach Marty Morgan. That itself was a questionable move because Morgan might qualify as a booster.
The report fails to appropriately address Yohn’s case. The University maintained that Robinson’s property transaction assistance to staff members who were former student-athletes did not constitute a recruiting inducement. What about a transaction with current student-athletes? That would certainly have a bearing on recruits.
What’s distressing about the investigation is that the University found it sufficient to leave questions like that unanswered. And precisely because the University did not choose diligence and transparency in its investigation, the NCAA should consider starting its own.