Ex-Duke player settles jewelry lawsuit
by Erick Smith, USA TODAY Sports
Former Duke player Lance Thomas has settled a lawsuit that claimed he owed almost $70,000 from a jewelry purchase made during his senior season.
“We have reached a settlement,” Mike Bowers, the attorney for Raefello & Co., wrote in an email to the News & Observer. “I cannot make further comment.”
According to the suit, Thomas made a $30,000 down payment and was supposed to pay the remaining balance of $67,800 within 15 days of the transaction that occurred in December of 2009. Nearly four months later, the Blue Devils won their fourth national title under coach Mike Krzyzewski.
When the lawsuit become public earlier this month, questions arose about how Thomas was able to afford the purchase while a college student and why he was extended a significant line of credit. If he received an impermissible benefit, he would be ruled ineligible and Duke could possibly be stripped of the championship.
The settlement, however, could ensure details of the purchase never become public and hamper any effort by the NCAA to find out whether a violation occurred.
Bowers said last week that the owner would not speak with the NCAA about the transaction. Thomas, who played 43 games with New Orleans Hornets last season, also is under no obligation to reveal how he paid for the jewelry.
“If everybody keeps their mouth shut and everybody refuses to talk to the NCAA, and by everybody I mean Thomas and the jeweler and whoever might have provided him this $30,000 if it did come from someone else, then there’s not much the NCAA can do if they don’t get information,” former Colorado State assistant director of compliance John Infante told the News & Observer. “A lot of these extra benefit cases, the person that provided the benefit might not be willing to talk to the NCAA.”