You may have heard of David Salinas, the investment advisor who is suspected of bilking several high-profile college coaches out of millions of dollars, Bernie Madoff-style, including former UK coach Billy Gillispie, former Arizona coach Lute Olson, and Baylor coach Scott Drew. You may also have heard that Salinas was found dead of an apparently successful suicide attempt in his Friendswood, TX home on Sunday.
Yahoo! sports asks today if the NCAA might take a dim view of the fact that David Salinas, besides being an investment advisor, also founded the AAU team Houston Select along with Brian Bjork of Select Asset Management, another financial management firm in Houston. The obvious "connect the dots" thinking here is that by investing with Salinas, there could be a built-in conflict of interest or worse with Houston Select players -- obviously the "worse" part being that Salinas was trying to direct his best players to his high-profile coaching clients in return for their business.
There is no doubt this should and does raise concerns, but it is by no means a slam dunk that there was anything unethical going on. The apparent size of these coach's investments with Salinas seems to argue against the kind of unethical behavior a more pro-forma relationship might. For example, if these coaches were investing a few tens of thousands of dollars, that would raise major suspicions with most anyone.
However, hundreds of thousands or millions is far too much money to be investing with a guy if your motives are to "buy" recruiting services. No recruit that I know of coming out of that team has ever been worth that much, and even if he was, it's a sure bet the coach wouldn't be playing for him out of his own personal funds.
With that said, this case raises questions about relationships between businessmen connected with the AAU and college recruiting scene and college coaches. Most AAU founders have other legitimate business interests which could be extended to coaches or others involved with recruiting to hide a nefarious or unethical recruiting arrangement, which leads us to the question, "Where else is stuff like this happening, and it entirely on the up and up?"
My first-blush thinking is that there is nothing to see here except further validation of the old adage, "A fool and his money are soon parted." Of course, to be fair, Salinas was apparently involved in major deception, so placing these busy coaches looking for safe places to invest their money in the category of "fool" may be too strong, but then again, maybe not.
In the end, I'm sure the NCAA will contact law enforcement to see if there is anything they can learn about the possible NCAA rules ramifications of the Salinas matter. Obviously, Salinas' suicide last week does not help the matter. Whatever evidence he may have provided in the form of testimony is now permanently unavailable. Depending on what the Securities and Exchange Commission finds, there may be others involved who will be prosecuted, but the government will not be attempting to try a dead man.
John Infante of The Bylaw Blog suggested to Dan Wolken over Twitter that this was the biggest sports story of the year over the weekend, but I myself doubt that is the case unless some kind of evidence is produced that Salinas' coaching clients were actually purchasing recruiting assistance. If that happens, all bets are off.