A prominent Houston-area summer basketball league founder died Sunday, opening a can of worms that could eventually have numerous high-profile college basketball coaches in hot water with the NCAA.
David Salinas, a 60-year-old investment advisor, apparently committed suicide Sunday, just as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was beginning to investigate his fraudulent business practices, according to a report from CBSSports.com.
Gonzaga coach Mark Few, Baylor’s Scott Drew, Texas Tech’s Billy Gillispie and former Arizona coach Lute Olson are part of a group of more than a dozen current and former college coaches who may have invested millions of dollars through Salinas to gain access to elite recruits from Salinas’ Houston Select AAU program.
One anonymous coach who spoke to CBSSports.com had this to say:
“A lot of coaches got (expletive). It’s bad.”
Former Houston coach Tom Penders was one of the few coaches willing to go on record to discuss Salinas. In a story published in The Daily on Tuesday, he explained the pitch Salinas gave him in 2004, which included a request for a “significant sum of money” — “$100,000 to be in with the big boys” — for investing in exchange for nudging his players toward Houston and other programs.
“He talked about all these coaches he had investing with him. I told him because he was an AAU guy, I couldn’t possibly get involved in that. I said ‘I think that’s kind of a rules violation, or could be.’”
The plot thickened Wednesday when Sports Illustrated reported the FBI has begun looking into the case which may have cost coaches more than $7.8 million in lost investments.
At the moment, the focus is on the damages of the possible Ponzi scheme to the coaches’ wallets, and for now, at least, the NCAA remains mum on the investigation. But if it’s later revealed that the named coaches were in fact paying for access to and influence over players, you have to believe the NCAA will get involved, and stiff penalties could be levied.
Houston Select’s most prominent alumni include Dexter Pittman (Texas), 2010-11 Washington Wizard Cartier Martin (Kansas State), Jawann McClellan (Arizona), Rodney Williams (Nebraska), Demetri Goodson (Baylor from Gonzaga) and Henry Dugat (Baylor).
The depth of Salinas’ involvement with coaches is just now coming to light, meaning this could be a drawn out process that exposes a number of top college coaches and programs for questionable recruiting tactics — and above all, poor financial investment strategy.