Former Arizona coach Lute Olson told ESPN he invested money with David Salinas after Olson stopped coaching the Wildcats, which could indicate there was no NCAA violation involved because of his relationship with the Houston businessman and basketball figure.
Meanwhile, one of Olson's former UA assistants, Scott Thompson, who also served as head coach at Wichita State, Rice and Cornell, told the Star he invested money with Salinas while he was a coach but did not do so to gain a recruiting edge. Salinas ran the Houston Select traveling team, but Thompson said he never had a Select player on his teams.
Salinas was found dead Sunday of an apparent suicide amid a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into his business practices. Sports Illustrated cited documents stating Olson invested $1.17 million with Salinas and Thompson, who is now a senior director of development for the UA Foundation, had an investment valued at $65,000.
Olson did not return messages from the Star on Tuesday and Wednesday but told ESPN.com that "I started doing a little bit of investing with him after I finished coaching, and all I know is what I've read on the Internet."
Former Olson-era UA associate head coach Jim Rosborough said Wednesday he knew Salinas only as a good friend of Thompson's and that he "never heard a peep" of Olson being involved with Salinas.
Olson's second wife, Christine, said Wednesday she has never heard of Salinas. She was married to Olson between 2003 and 2007.
Sports Illustrated and CBSSports.com reported that many coaches invested with Salinas, and the NCAA may be investigating whether they tried to gain recruiting leverage by doing so.
The NCAA did not return a message about the Salinas situation from the Star on Wednesday and typically does not comment about ongoing investigations. But Fox 26 Houston quoted former University of Houston player Moses Malone Jr. saying the NCAA asked him about Salinas, noting its inquiry was "definitely having to do with improper benefits from coaches and his business dealings with his investments."
Former UA basketball player Jawann McClellan told the Star on Tuesday that he was "pretty sure" coaches tried to gain leverage in his recruitment by investing with Salinas, though he said he did not choose UA because of any relationship between Olson and Salinas.
Former UA athletic director Jim Livengood, who now occupies a similar post at UNLV, said Wednesday he knew of Salinas but not when McClellan committed to UA as a Houston Select player in 2002.
"If you'd asked me when Jawann was there, I wouldn't have known who David Salinas was," Livengood said. "The big link was Josh (Pastner, then UA assistant coach) and his dad."
Pastner's father, Hal, established the Houston Hoops travel team, a rival of the Select. He said Wednesday he knew nothing about Salinas or his financial dealings. Josh Pastner, now the coach at Memphis, said he had never invested money with Salinas.
"I didn't know him," Hal Pastner said. "The most interaction we had was maybe 15 seconds, maybe shaking his hands a couple of years ago."
As the coach at Rice between 1987 and 1992, Thompson said he needed to know key figures involved with the Hoops and Select, which had many of the area's top players on their travel-team rosters.
Thompson said he was aware there would be speculation about Salinas' relationship with coaches named as investors, but that there were plenty of non-coaches involved, too.
"He was a person that was a friend to many, many people, and there are many who invested with him and trusted him," Thompson said. "That's why everybody's very surprised over this and saddened."