DALLAS (AP) – The Texas financial adviser who committed suicide last year as federal investigators probed his management of college coaches’ money changed his life insurance less than a month before his death to make former University of Houston football coach Bill Yeoman the beneficiary of $1.8 million.
The decision by David Salinas could have allowed Yeoman to recoup his losses in what the Securities and Exchange Commission alleges was a $39 million Ponzi scheme, but the Hall of Fame coach declined to claim the money.
The 11th-hour change in Salinas’ life insurance, detailed in a court document filed this week, suggests that the prominent Houston booster could have felt guilty about his dealings with Yeoman, who turns 85 in December.
“I think he thought, ‘Well, I’ll reimburse Coach because I screwed him and he’s 85,’” said Bill Yeoman Jr., the coach’s eldest son. “But, of course, he screwed everybody.”
The elder Yeoman, who coached t he Cougars from 1962 to 1986 and still works for the university in a fundraising capacity, declined to be interviewed, referring all comment to his son.
Salinas, 60, was found dead in his suburban Houston home of a self-inflicted gunshot wound last July. Two weeks later, the SEC filed a lawsuit alleging he and an associate sold bogus corporate bonds in a scheme that defrauded more than 100 investors, including several high-profile college coaches.
Bill Yeoman Jr., a retired Harris County justice of the peace, said his father invested approximately $1.2 million with Salinas starting in the mid-1980s.
Although most of the investment appears to be lost, the coach never considered keeping the insurance benefit, the son said. Instead, he allowed it to be turned over to the receiver appointed by the SEC to recover funds for Salinas’ investors and creditors.
“Dad just said, ‘That’s not something I’m entitled to unless everybody else gets their money back,’” Bill Yeoman Jr. said.
In a court filing, the receiver, Steven Harr, said Salinas revised a $3 million life insurance policy last June 25, three weeks before his suicide, designating Yeoman and two others as beneficiaries. All three were victims of the alleged fraud, according to the document.
Yeoman and another beneficiary readily agreed to give up their interests in the money, the filing says. But the third did not, citing the fact that the amount he was due to receive — $600,000 — was roughly equal to what he’d lost by investing with Salinas, according to the document.
Harr received the court’s approval for a compromise that would pay the investor, a former Houston-area car dealer, $20,000 in exchange for giving up his right to the $600,000.
Salinas was well known in college basketball circles as the founder of an AAU program for high school stars, and many of his clients were coaches.
Among the basketball coaches who have lost significant amounts of money because of investments with Salinas are Texas Tech’s Billy Gillispie, Baylor’s Scott Drew, former Arizona coach Lute Olson and former Utah coach Ray Giacoletti, now an assistant at Gonzaga. Baylor football coach Art Briles, who previously coached at Houston, also invested.
Briles told the Houston Chronicle last July that his relationship with Yeoman, his college coach, was among the reasons he trusted Salinas with his money.
“Knowing that coach Yeoman was involved … and other people in Houston who are not coaches who I love and trust … made us go over (to Salinas),” Briles said.
Yeoman is the winningest coach in Houston history with a record of 160-108-8, and he’s known for revolutionizing offensive football by developing the veer offense. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
Bill Yeoman Jr. said his father, like other coaches, failed to notice that Salinas wasn’t licensed to sell securities and other red flags.
“He just kind of believed (Salinas) and didn’t do a whole lot of due diligence,” the son said. “Football was his life, and he just kind of kept it that way.”