Former NBA player Nate Robinson was a two-sport star his freshman year at the University of Washington before solely playing basketball in his final two years at the school. Had he kept playing football, he claims he could have made some serious cash.
Robinson said on his Sports Illustrated podcast this week that he was offered $100,000 per season by a Washington booster to continue to play football after his freshman year.
“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 explained. “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.”
His comments come as the FBI’s corruption probe continues to envelop college basketball. According to an ESPN report last week, Arizona coach Sean Miller was recorded on a wiretap telling an agency runner to deal with him directly regarding a $100,000 payment for the services of star freshman Deandre Ayton.
Robinson was a defensive back for the Huskies in 2002 and had two interceptions while also sporadically returning kicks. The Huskies went 7-6 in that season, leading to Neuheisel’s departure. Keith Gilbertson was hired as Neuheisel’s replacement and was ousted after a 1-10 season in 2004, leading to Willingham’s four-year tenure.
Robinson said he sat down with his mother after the offer was made to him and realized there may be some sort of payback necessary on the money if he took it.
“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.’ 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.
The decision worked out pretty well financially for Robinson, who was selected in the 2005 NBA draft. Though he’s pretty lucky in that respect. Over his 13-year NBA career, Robinson earned over $24 million according to Basketball-Reference.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.