By Karen Travers
In the competitive world of college basketball recruiting, coaches will use any edge they can to land a blue-chip high school athlete. Roy Williams can use the Tar Heel history at North Carolina. UCLA’s Ben Howland can point to his school’s 11 national championship banners.
But no college coach has what Oregon State’s Craig Robinson has: access to his brother-in-law, basketball fanatic President Obama.
Could a call from the Oval Office make a difference in Robinson’s recruiting?
He did not seem to rule out using his presidential connections in a radio interview with Steve Mason and John Ireland on ESPN L.A. on Tuesday, according to the blog SportsRadioInterviews.com.
Q: Are you even allowed to use your sister and brother-in-law by rule, can you get them to help you if you want to?
Robinson: I haven’t tested the rule yet. But what I’ve been telling people is I think the president has the right to call any citizen that he feels like calling any time he wants. I haven’t had to use him yet, but I think I ought to petition the NCAA to see what the ruling will be on that before I do it.
Robinson played for legendary coach Pete Carrill at Princeton from 1980 to 1983 and was a two-time Ivy League Player of the Year.
The Obamas and Robinson frequently told the story of how Robinson brought Barack Obama into a basketball game in Chicago after he and Michelle Obama first started dating –- a classic older-brother move, testing his younger sister’s new suitor. Obama skills on the court served him well and he and Robinson still play the occasional pick-up game.
Robinson was brought in to turn around a struggling Oregon State program that didn’t win a single game in the Pac-10 last season and went 6-25 overall.
In his first season, the Beavers are 7-9 in the conference and 13-14 overall, and there is talk of Pac-10 coach of the year honors for Robinson.
Asked by ESPN L.A. if this season’s success is a stimulus package, Robinson said it was more like a bailout plan.
Change Beaver fans can believe in?