LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 10: Hall of fame head coach Lute Olson watches the Arizona Wildcats take on the Oregon State Beavers in the quarterfinals of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament at Staples Center on March 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Yesterday, we gave you the implications of what an alleged suicide of David Salinas, an investment adviser and founder of the Houston Select summer basketball program, could mean after it was revealed he had connections with former Arizona head coach Lute Olson.
Today, there's not much to add, except a source who went on the record to say that Salinas was indeed into "Shady Dealings," the exact headline of The Daily's Dan Wolken's article that was published today. In it, former University of Houston head coach Tom Penders told Wolken that Salinas pretty explicitly told the coach that whatever money he'd "invest" would aide in helping land high school recruits from Salinas' program. The exact words from the Wolken story:
Penders, now retired, told The Daily that Salinas solicited him for a $100,000 investment in their first meeting and "made a strong, strong implication" that it would help Houston gain access to prospects that were part of the Houston Select, an AAU program that Salinas founded.
Penders said he refused the offer because, obviously, it smelled like a poor idea if the coach didn't want the NCAA sniffing around his hoops program. Logically, it makes sense for Penders to refuse an offer, even if it had nothing to do with basketball whatsoever.
That's the exact reason why Olson got the Arizona basketball program sanctioned by the NCAA a little over one year ago. Believe any ill intent or not, the mere fact of interaction between coaches and people associated with AAU teams kind of sounds like a bad idea. Again, there's poor judgment involved with this situation as well, especially because former Wildcat Jawann McClellan was involved in the Houston camp before coming to Arizona.
Sure, maybe it's all coincidence. A guy around college coaches wanting to get business with powerful people who have lots of money. That's a business decision that could be completely innocent from the game of basketball. Nonetheless, something here is fishy: too many coaches' names are attached to something that seems stupid to do -- too many people here were playing with fire that they didn't need to be (unless of course, we consider possible ambitions to get recruits illegally).
Amusingly, Penders also said he had no idea why college coaches -- who are "supposed to be street smart," to use his phrasing -- decided to invest money with an AAU program founder in the first place. Valid question, Tom. One can safely assume the NCAA Committee on Infractions will be wondering the exact same thing.
There's no doubt the NCAA will be digging into athletic departments for more information in the coming months. At Arizona, we've been through this before and know that the penalties, while apparently supposed to punish haven't exactly ruined the basketball program. Remember, Sean Miller built the Wildcats back up in the midst of recruiting trip holds and scholarship reduction.
So even assuming the worst, I can't imagine the NCAA coming down hard enough to make Arizona pay any greater of a price than it did during the last scandal. That said, it wouldn't be shocking if this story is newsworthy once again in a number of months.