The Sad, Still-Developing Tale Of Investment Fraud, AAU Basketball, College Coaches, And Personal Tragedy
There's been a ton of focus on the shady tactics and corruption rampant in college football lately. From the Jim Tressel saga to Oregon's recruiting services to North Carolina's...everything, there's been no shortage of material to work with to show just how often rules are bent or broken. Lost in the shuffle, to an extent: the shady tactics and corruption rampant in college basketball. Thanks in large part to AAU ball, corruption is, if anything, even more prevalent in hoops, but the football stuff has been more at the forefront in recent months.
Maybe not for long, though - and unfortunately, what's spurring on the latest potential story of recruiting impropriety is a tragedy. Sunday evening, CBS Sports reported the death of David Salinas, "an investment adviser who doubled as the founder of a prominent Houston-area summer basketball program." The death of the 60-year-old Salinas appeared to be a suicide. At the time of his death, Salinas was being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for investment fraud.
Salinas' connection to college basketball didn't end with his Houston Select program, however. Several of those potentially hurt by Salinas' fraudulent practices were college basketball coaches who invested with him...coaches whose rosters often contained an alumnus of Houston Select. The coaches - including former Arizona coach Lute Olson (UPDATE: Olson says he did not invest any money with Salinas until he was already retired, which might mean his Salinas associations wouldn't be of much concern to the NCAA), Texas Tech coach Billy Gillispie, Gonzaga coach Mark Few, Baylor's Scott Drew, and Nebraska's Doc Sadler - reportedly lost $7.8 million between them. The major question now: were those investments in any way tied together with cases like Gonzaga's Demetri Goodson (played for Salinas' program, then for Few) or former Arizona player Jawann McClellan (who followed up a stint on Houston Select by playing for Olson's Wildcats in college)?
And that's where things get dicey. ESPN's Andy Katz reported that the NCAA does not plan an investigation into the coaches' connection to Salinas. CBS Sports' Jeff Goodman then came along with a story that sounded a lot different. From an unnamed source:
"Of course it's an NCAA issue. The NCAA is already looking into it. Why wouldn't they?"
Why wouldn't they, indeed. It seems plenty investigation-worthy: some of these coaches (wrongly) entrusted a lot of money to this guy...in many cases, while they were recruiting players with a direct connection to the guy. And let's consider the words of one coach who didn't invest with Salinas:
Former Houston coach Tom Penders told The Daily's Dan Wolken on Monday that Salinas solicited him for a $100,000 investment in their first meeting and “made a strong, strong implication” that it would help him gain access to prospects that were part of the Houston Select program.
Another (unnamed) coach gave his thoughts to Gary Parrish of CBS:
"I invest my money with billionaires -- not AAU coaches. If they lost all their money, those guys got what they deserve."
Well, if not all their money, then a lot of it: another unnamed coach (who did invest with Salinas) told CBS he wasn't worried about the NCAA...just the possibility that he "got Madoffed." If the NCAA wasn't planning an investigation into this before (which seems unlikely, considering former Houston Select player Moses Malone Jr. said the NCAA already did talk to him), the organization sort of has to look into all these reports, doesn't it? And while it's possible they don't find anything impermissible, they'll certainly find some questionable associations. And sadly, given Salinas' tragic end, that would be the least of the problems associated with this mess.
Photo via (Getty - Rick Stewart)
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