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Beavers move to squelch rumors.

Byline: Curtis Anderson The Register-Guard

CORVALLIS - Oregon State men's basketball coach Craig Robinson has reached an agreement in principle to a two-year contract extension, OSU director of athletics Bob De Carolis announced Tuesday.

The new contract ensures that Robinson will be on the sidelines at Gill Coliseum through the 2015-16 season. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.

"It happened quickly," Robinson said of the contract negotiations. "But neither side was feeling under pressure. We both thought that this was a good situation and we wanted to make sure it stayed a good situation."

Robinson said one of the most important aspects of the new deal is quieting speculation that he would be leaving Oregon State in the near future to pursue other job opportunities.

Earlier this season, his name surfaced in media reports as a possible candidate to fill the head coaching vacancy at DePaul University, which is located in Robinson's hometown of Chicago.

"It's a huge distraction for our recruits," Robinson said. "Because they're trying to decide where they're going to go to school, and they're hearing that the guy they are hopefully going to go play for, might be going somewhere else.

"So, getting this extension, and getting the rumor mills out of the way is helpful. I don't let that kind of stuff bother me most of the time, but with regards to the guys I'm coaching and recruiting, it can be a distraction."

OSU's Joe Burton, one of three freshmen to play for the Beavers this year, was thrilled when he heard about the contract extension before Tuesday's practice.

"That's great," he said. "It means he's going to be with us until we graduate, and if something happens, and we have to redshirt a year, he'll still be with us.

"I'm excited, not just for us, but for the people who are considering Oregon State. It gives them a chance to learn under a good coach."

Added OSU junior Omari Johnson: "I feel good for the program. (Coach) will be sticking around for these recruits, so they won't be left hanging."

In just his second season at OSU, Robinson has engineered a remarkable turnaround that has seen the Beavers win 31 games since his arrival in the spring of 2008.

Those 31 victories represent the most over a two-year period for the Beavers since they won a combined 36 games during the 1989-90 and 1990-91 seasons.

Last year, OSU finished with an overall record of 18-18, culminating with the College Basketball Invitational championship in a best-of-three series win over UTEP. It was the first postseason basketball title in school history.

The 18 wins were the most at OSU since it won 22 games in the 1989-90 season. Robinson was named District IX coach of the year by the United States Basketball Writers Association.

"Since his arrival, Craig Robinson has done an outstanding job of instilling a work ethic within the program that has allowed our student-athletes to improve on and off the court," De Carolis said in an OSU press release.

"He has shown a keen understanding of how to build a program the right way and has already made significant strides in restoring the proud tradition of Oregon State men's basketball.

"This new agreement ensures his leadership will be felt for a long time and adds continued stability to the program."

Robinson was originally hired to a six-year deal with a base salary of $750,000, which includes revenue from shoe, media and apparel contracts.

In addition, he can earn bonuses for a variety of achievements.

Those include a winning season, a Pac-10 title, postseason tournament appearances, academic benchmarks, coaching honors, top 25 rankings and tickets sold.

OSU, which is currently 13-15 overall and 7-9 in the Pac-10, closes out the regular season this week with home games against Washington State and Washington.

The Beavers play host to the Cougars (16-12, 6-10) on Thursday at 7 p.m., followed by a 5 p.m. contest on Saturday against the Huskies (19-9, 9-7).

California has already clinched at least a share of the Pac-10 crown, and the Golden Bears will be the No. 1 seed in next week's conference tournament at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Depending on the outcome of its final two games, OSU can finish as high as third or as low as 10th in the conference standings.

"That's a crazy situation," Robinson said. "But it's a huge opportunity for this program and these guys. We're trying to look at it realistically and not be overwhelmed by the magnitude of it all."

A victory over WSU on Thursday would guarantee the Beavers would avoid the March 10 play-in game matching the eighth and ninth seeds in the Pac-10 tournament.

(USC is ineligible for the postseason because of self-imposed sanctions on the men's basketball program for violating NCAA rules.)

"The real issue is only having three games," Robinson said. "Because it's easier to win three games than four, obviously, especially if you win that first game and the next one is against the No. 1 seed."
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Title Annotation:Basketball College; OSU extends Craig Robinson's contract by two years to avoid recruiting distraction
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 3, 2010
Words:846
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