An e-mail about Oregon State University men’s basketball coach Craig Robinson has been circulating the Internet for a few weeks, and it is so persistent that — after initially deciding to ignore it as preposterous — OSU officials this week are flatly calling it a pure falsehood.

“There’s no truth to that,” OSU director of athletics Bob De Carolis said.

The e-mail is often sent with subject lines such as “Stimulus money ... One Job Saved” or “Stimulus Does Work.” It makes the untrue claim that Robinson was on the brink of getting fired earlier this past season but was bailed out when the U.S. government stepped in with $17 million in specially-designated stimulus money for OSU.

Here’s the text of one such e-mail:

“Some have said that the stimulus hasn’t saved any jobs, but here is a case where at least one job was saved. According to an unnamed source, Oregon State University Athletic Director Bob De Carolis was considering firing their basketball coach, Craig Robinson, after an 8-11 start (2-5 in the Pac-10 Conference).

“When word of this reached Washington, Undersecretary of Education Martha Kanter was dispatched to Corvallis with $17 million in stimulus money for the university. The source now says that Craig Robinson’s job is safe for this year. For the record, Coach Robinson just happens to be Michelle Obama’s brother.”

Todd Simmons, OSU’s director of news and communications, said the e-mail rumor no doubt took root because Robinson is Barack Obama’s brother-in-law and OSU — like many other universities — did receive federal stimulus money.

That’s where the facts end.

“There isn’t any financial connection between Craig Robinson and the White House, OSU and the White House, Craig Robinson and the stimulus money,” Simmons said. “There’s just nothing there.”

OSU received $26,434,969 as its portion of stimulus money from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to the Oregon University System. The money will go to 61 projects to be used for studies on the ocean, climate change and immune system therapy, among others.

If the e-mail is to be believed, Robinson was on the brink of losing his job coming off the national College Basketball Invitational championship and leading OSU to an 18-18 overall record in his first year at OSU — that after an 0-18 Pac-10 the previous season. Robinson was given a two-year contract extension in early March.

De Carolis said he’s been getting e-mails from all over the country regarding the rumor.

“It’s been crazy,” he said. “I must have gotten 50 e-mails a day from people wanting to know if it’s true.”

De Carolis did not know the source of the e-mail.

“It’s the Internet,” he said. “Don’t believe anything that’s on it.”

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