Did Craig Robinson leave the Oregon State University men’s basketball program in shambles?
Robinson, the team’s ex head coach, is the older brother of First Lady Michelle Obama.
Barack Obama’s brother-in-law had a 122-168 record (39-69 in the Pac 12 Conference and no NCAA appearances) over six years with the Beavers before he was fired in 2014, leaving the gig with a $4 million buyout for the remaining three years on his contract.
Robinson played college ball for Princeton and was subsequently selected by the Philadelphia 76ers in the fourth round of the 1983 NBA draft. Robinson never played in the NBA. He did play two years of pro ball in the U.K., however. He earned an MBA from the University of Chicago and has a banking background in addition to having previously coached at Northwestern and Brown.
According to reports, he is in the running to take over as head coach for either University of Illinois-Chicago (his hometown) or Holy Cross. In the meantime, he is working for ESPN — a network which recently featured Barack Obama’s March Madness brackets — as a college basketball analyst.
Robinson campaigned nearly fulltime with Team Obama in the 2008 presidential contest before taking up the Oregon State coaching job (a team which had gone 0-18 in the Pac 10 under his predecessor in the previous season).
In a November 2008, New York Times article that raised the question as to whether his political connections would help in recruiting, Coach Robinson said “I want my players to know that I’m recruiting them to play basketball at Oregon State, and to the extent that my network can help them after college, if you come play for me, you’re part of my network. I think people can figure that out without me hitting them over the head with it.”
According to the Washington Free Beacon, Robinson’s tenure at Oregon State was not particularly stellar or presidential, as it were. Picking up the pieces, Robinson’s successor managed to go 17-14 this season.
“Not only did Robinson fail to get results at Oregon State, he also left a mess for new coach Wayne Tinkle. Tinkle inherited a team without a single player averaging four points a game. He had to hold open tryouts to fill out the team’s roster—a practice almost unheard of for a program playing in a major conference… Three of the top 150 recruits in the country are going to Oregon State next season, a feat Robinson never came close to equalling. Robinson even used the promise to recruits that his players would get access to his political connections.”
For what it’s worth, a local sports reporter quoted by the Beacon offered this assessment of Craig Robinson’s stewardship of the basketball program. “Robinson just couldn’t deliver on any of his promises when he was hired. Frankly I think his relationship to the Obamas was the only reason he lasted six years because Oregon State was middling to bad every year.”
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