LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12: Hall of fame head coach Lute Olson and guest watch the championship game of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament between the Arizona Wildcats and the Washington Huskies at Staples Center on March 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Things are looking a lot better for the Arizona Wildcats basketball program after Lute Olson released a statement regarding his relations with David Salinas, who allegedly committed suicide in the midst of a fraud scandal.
"I’ve known David (Salinas) for a long time and feel horrible for his family," Olson said in the statement. "That (his passing) is something that none of his friends could have expected. Yes, I’ve invested with David, and he’s been a friend for a while, but I did not invest money until after I had retired from coaching."
Between that statement and Jawann McClellan telling Bruce Pascoe of the Arizona Daily Star that his reasoning for attending Arizona had nothing to do with the commitment, it appears that the Wildcats could be off the hook, even if the situation turns out to be dirty.
McClellan told the Star he was "pretty sure" some coaches attempted to use Salinas to grab him when he was an McDonald's All-American recruit, but it had nothing to do with Arizona. Both he and Houston-area high school coach Greg Wise, father of Arizona players Nic and Dondre Wise, said that it was Olson and former assistant and current Memphis coach Josh Pastner who should be credited for landing J-Mac.
The Arizona Athletics compliance official, Bill Morgan, didn't sound worried while talking to Pascoe, either:
UA compliance head Bill Morgan said Tuesday night such a violation - if somehow established - would be outside of the NCAA's statute of limitations and would be considered only if the NCAA believed it was part of a trend that continued to more recent events.
Morgan said in the unlikely case that a financial connection between Olson and Salinas was proven related to McClellan's arrival, it would be similar to the allegations Oregon is facing over a payment to a scouting service run by a trainer affiliated with a Texas high school football star.
So assuming Olson is telling the truth, we can assume the NCAA won't find anything shady going on -- at least at Arizona. In the end, it becomes a sad story of a man, who was trusted by many with their money, then cheated them out of millions of dollars.