Oregon State University is cutting its ties to the White House after reportedly firing head men's basketball coach Craig Robinson. Robinson is the older brother of First Lady Michelle Obama and President Barack Obama's brother-in-law.
Oregon State's administration has not officially announced Robinson's removal, but sources close to the situation told Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel the decision has been made. Robinson, 52, compiled a 94-105 record in six seasons. Oregon State did not make an NCAA tournament or even an NIT berth under Robinson, though it did win the College Basketball Invitational in 2008-09.
The Beavers went 16-16 this past season and were eliminated by Radford in the first round of the CBI. The school will be on the hook for the three years and more than $4 million remaining on his contract, unless a buyout is reached.
While Oregon State's on-court performance did little to engender faith in Robinson, the move's timing is at the very least a questionable decision from administration. Major-conference schools typically like to make their coaching decisions early so they have ample time to find a suitable replacement.
The Beavers will have their pick of what's left on the coaching carousel, but it's unclear how many coaches are willing to drop their program at this juncture. The timing leaves precious little opportunity for a coach to put his own stamp on Oregon State's recruiting class.
Strange timing by Oregon State and letting Robinson go.— Bryan Fischer (@BryanDFischer) May 5, 2014
At the very least, the move calls into question what has been happening behind the scenes for the past month. Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis met with Robinson at the end of March. Given the coach's outspoken nature and displeasure in Corvallis about his job performance, one could have expected this to happen a while ago.
"If I get fired, it's been nice knowing you guys," Robinson told reporters following his team's CBI loss to Radford in a now-prescient quote.
Although it seemed Oregon State would reluctantly keep Robinson on, perhaps the recent mass exodus of players finally pushed the administration over the edge.
Forward Eric Moreland forewent his final year of eligibility to turn pro, point guard Hallice Cooke announced his intention to transfer, and guard Challe Barton is staying overseas to sign a professional contract.
That leaves an already struggling program without much of a future plan. Moreland, Cooke and Barton were ostensibly the core of the 2014-15 Beavers team, leaving whoever takes over with a massive hole to fill. Leading scorer Roberto Nelson, at times the team's only consistent offensive weapon, is out of eligibility.
The departure of key players combined with Robinson's inability to push Oregon State to the next level provides the school with an opportunity for a clean break. It also makes the job infinitely harder—and thus less desirable—for the next person who steps in.
The Beavers will replace all five starters and lack a star-laden recruiting class that could help expedite the rebuild. All four current Oregon State commits are considered 3-star talents, according to 247Sports' composite rankings. The class is ranked No. 60 overall.
Expect administration to start with a list of high-profile mid-major coaches before settling on a tertiary choice—much in the way it did with Robinson in 2008. Robinson had only two years of prior experience as a head coach before the Beavers plucked him out of Brown following a 19-10 season. At the time, he breathed fresh air into a program left flailing by Jay John.
More than a half decade later, the school will need someone else to do the same for Robinson.
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