Spin machine pumps out e-mail spreading OSU rumor

Oregon State head basketball coach Craig Robinson looks to the scoreboard during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game
Oregon State head basketball coach Craig Robinson looks to the scoreboard during the first half of their NCAA college basketball game against UCLA in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, Jan. 30, 2010. Photo courtesy Don Ryan, Associated Press.

CORVALLIS, Ore. – For the past several weeks, a baseless rumor concerning Oregon State University men’s head basketball coach Craig Robinson has been circulating online, said Oregon State University in a statement Wednesday.

The e-mails are sent with such subject lines as “Stimulus Does Work” and “Job Saved.” The e-mails "falsely claim that Robinson’s job was in jeopardy last fall, but was 'saved' when an undersecretary of the U.S. Dept. of Education was dispatched to Corvallis with $17 million in stimulus money for OSU," reports OSU in a rare response to Internet rumors.

The debunked e-mail message then concludes by pointing out that Robinson is the brother of First Lady Michelle Obama.

An OSU spokesperson said the university has received lots of questions on the e-mail, both from individuals and organizations like Snopes.com that specialize in debunking Internet falsehoods.

One such site, About.com’s “Urban Legends” blog, reported on March 11, “While it’s true that Oregon State University head basketball coach Craig Robinson is Michelle Obama's brother, virtually everything else in this message is false.”

About.com Guide David Emery tells readers, “When I asked OSU Director of Athletics Bob De Carolis to comment on this rumor – which is as much a smear against him as it is against Coach Robinson and the Obama administration – his response was succinct: 'There is absolutely no truth to any of this, period.'"

OSU reports its funding from the stimulus' American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on a special Web site created months ago.

The publicly available site lists 60 competitive ARRA grants to OSU totaling $26.4 million, and includes detail on each project and the principal investigator leading it. Projects range from climate change-related research developing a historic record of atmospheric carbon dioxide to a study of a new combination treatment for cancer.