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Lute Olson says he invested with Salinas only after he retired

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Unless documents surface casting doubt on the statement Hall of Fame coach Lute Olson released Wednesday evening, Arizona may have the least reason to worry of any program tied to the David Salinas scandal.

"I've invested with David and he's been a friend for a while," Olson said, "but I did not invest money until after I had retired from coaching."

Olson is the most prominent of the dozen coaches who reportedly invested with Salinas, the financial adviser who founded the Houston Select summer basketball program and died Sunday in apparent suicide. reported Tuesday that Olson lost $1.17 million to the ponzi scheme Salinas was running.

The lone player Olson coached produced by Houston Select was coveted forward Jawann McClellan, a onetime five-star recruit who never quite reached expectations as a Wildcat. McClellan told the Arizona Daily Star that he's "pretty sure" coaches invested with Salinas in hopes that he'd steer players to their programs, but the former Wildcat also insisted his relationship with Salinas was not a factor in his decision to attend Arizona.

"Coach Olson was probably one of his biggest clients and (committing to UA) caught a lot of people off guard," McClellan said Tuesday by phone from Houston. "A lot of people thought I was going to Texas, but I was confident in my decision."

McClellan's comments jive with the timeline established by Olson, but the very fact that the Hall of Fame coach had to release a statement making the timing of his investment clear shows programs believe the NCAA may come down hard on those involved. Olson previously had declined to comment about the Salinas story before the sheer volume of media requests apparently drove him to reconsider.

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