Former Washington star Nate Robinson said he was offered $100,000 a year by a booster to return to the football team once he left to concentrate on basketball.
Robinson’s comments were made on a Sports Illustrated podcast “Holdat.” The former UW basketball and NBA star along with former NBA forward Carlos Boozer talked about the times they were offered impermissible benefits.
The former Ranier Beach High star initially came to UW on a football scholarship but left the team to focus on basketball.
He played 13 games during his freshman year in 2002 with the football team. Robinson would go onto become a first-round pick of the Phoenix Suns in 2005.
“When they fired Rick Neuheisel my freshman year that made it easy for me to make my decision to quit and go play basketball, which I wanted to do anyway,” Robinson said on the podcast. “For my three years at UW, I had a booster offer me $100,000 per year to come back and play football because they needed Nate Robinson back on the football field because we weren’t winning any games, it wasn’t exciting.
“It was crazy, we went through a dark age at the University of Washington. When Tyrone Willingham was the coach years later, we didn’t win not one game. It was just crazy.”
Robinson said a booster came to him and his mother about the proposition.
“But a booster came to me, my mom sat down and my mom was like, ‘That’s a lot of money.’ And she was looking at me like, ‘What you want to do?’ And I was like, ‘I want to hoop, I don’t want to take money from a booster and not knowing if this handshake is for us to keep this money, because people don’t do nothing for free,’ ” Robinson said.
“And that’s what my mom taught me. What do I owe you after this? My mom was just like, ‘What do you want to do? It’s up you. This is your life, not mine.’ I told my mom I going to have to kindly say no thank you, but my dream is to play basketball and earn everything that I got.”
Robinson said he knew he did not want to “owe anybody anything” by the end of his time at UW.
Robinson spent 11 NBA seasons with the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Golden State Warriors, Chicago Bulls, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers and New Orleans Pelicans.
He was also a three-time NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion.
The discussion of college athletes and impermissible benefits has been at a fever pitch in the wake of the FBI investigation into college basketball.
Yahoo Sports reported late last week more than 25 current and former college basketball players from programs like Alabama, Duke, North Carolina and USC received money from ASM Sports.
Former UW star point guard Markelle Fultz allegedly received a $10,000 loan from the agency, years before he turned pro.
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark