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Highlands Ranch coach resigns after incident surrounding players and drug dogs

Highlands Ranch is without a head football coach after he allegedly drove a student's car to his house the same morning drug sniffing dogs were due to come to the parking lot.

Highlands Ranch High’s football coach abruptly resigned last week, a day after he jumped in a vehicle belonging to one of his players and drove it off school grounds just before sheriff’s deputies were to bring drug-sniffing dogs into the student parking lot, 9Wants to Know has learned.

According to a Douglas County Sheriff’s Office report obtained by 9NEWS, the coach, Mark Robinson, had been notified the morning of Aug. 24 that deputies and drug dogs were on their way to the school, located at 9375 Cresthill Lane.

Before they arrived, Robinson got the keys to a vehicle driven by a member of his team and drove it to his own home, located on an adjacent street, according to the report.

When a deputy later ran one of the dogs around the vehicle – while it was still parked in front of Robinson’s home – “there was a positive hit,” according to the report.

Robinson, a dean at the school in addition to being a coach, resigned on Aug. 25, the day before the Falcons opened the season with a 53-7 win over Smoky Hill.

In an e-mail sent to parents, Robinson, 49, described his decision to resign after three years as coach as one rooted in the difficulties of the job.

“This past year I have gone through a lot of things and have noticed that I was slipping in my duties as the head coach,” he wrote, in part. “I believe that you need to be in it 100 percent just like you ask of your players. At this time I am unable to give that effort …”

He said that after the conversation with his wife and the school’s principal he decided to step down.

“I know the team will be in good hands with the current staff we have in place and I am willing to support them with anything they need in this transition and throughout the season,” he wrote. “It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with your boys.”

Robinson was not at his home Friday afternoon when a 9NEWS reporter stopped there. A message left on a phone number listed for Robinson was not immediately returned.

Paula Hans, spokesperson for the Douglas County School District, declined to discuss the specifics of Robinson’s departure from the school.

“I can confirm that Mark Robinson is no longer the football coach at Highlands Ranch High School,” she wrote in an e-mail to 9NEWS. “Further, he is no longer employed by the Douglas County School District.”

According to the sheriff’s report, a deputy sent Robinson a text message at 9:32 a.m. on Aug. 24, “reminding him that the K-9 units would be at the school” at 10 a.m. “to complete the sniff operation in the student parking lot.”

The deputy also asked Robinson to notify the school’s principal, and, according to the report, “he said that he would.” Robinson also told the deputy which members of the school’s security team would be on hand.

About 10 a.m., after deputies were at the school, two of the school’s security officers approached them, saying they had seen Robinson drive off in the student’s vehicle. Robinson had told them “he was just leaving to put gas” in the vehicle “real fast and he would be back.”

A short time later, Robinson arrived at the student lot – but without his player’s car. The vehicle was later found parked in front of the coach’s house.

After a dog “hit” on the vehicle, deputies went to talk to the player. According to the report obtained by 9Wants to Know, he initially said that he’d left his vehicle at home that day – but he could not remember what street he lived on. Told that the vehicle was parked on a street behind the school, the player answered, “Yeah, that’s coach’s house,” according to the report.

The boy acknowledged that he gave the keys to Robinson earlier that morning but wasn’t sure what time – and said that the coach took his car “to get him some personal items like shoes and clothes or something.”

When deputies told the boy a dog had alerted on his vehicle and asked him for permission to search it, he declined, saying he “just does not like cops like that,” according to the report.

No criminal charges were filed.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Lori Bronner said there was no evidence a crime was committed.

"Just the fact that he moved a car does not make it a crime," Bronner said. "If he just moved a car for a reason that was totally legit, it's not a crime."

Robinson went to Highlands Ranch in 2014 after spending more than two decades at Lakewood High, where he had been the head football coach since 1998.

The Denver Post reported in 2015 that Robinson was suspended for a game after he was found to be violating rules governing electronic communication with players during a game.

Contact 9NEWS reporter Kevin Vaughan with tips about this or any story: kevin.vaughan@9news.com or 303-871-1862.