Two weeks ago, former Duke basketball player Lance Thomas settled his lawsuit with the jewelers Rafaello and Co. after the Manhattan-based firm filed suit regarding a 2009 jewelry purchase.
In December of 2009, Thomas purchased $97,800 of jewelry from them, paying $30,000 of the cost up front—the suit was regarding the balance of the payment.
This broached questions of Thomas' NCAA eligibility at the time based on how he received the money to pay $30,000 up front and why the jewelry firm was willing to give him such a large amount of credit for the rest of the purchase.
December 2009 was in the middle of Thomas' senior year at Duke, the same season the Blue Devils won its most recent national championship. If Thomas were deemed ineligible, Duke would be at risk of having its national championship taken away, in a worst case scenario. If Thomas actually did violate NCAA rules, however, remains unknown with Duke and the NCAA currently amid its investigation.
In Associated Press article yesterday, Thomas has indicated a willingness to speak to the NCAA about the issue, although he did not indicate in the article to what degree he will cooperate, if at all:
"I'm still working on that, but I'll eventually speak to them," Thomas said.
Thomas has settled the lawsuit which claimed he owed nearly $68,000 to Rafaello & Co. for a purchase made during Duke's 2009-10 national championship season. However, he said some legal details still must be worked out, after which he expects to be more willing to meet with the NCAA and comment publicly in more detail about the matter.
"I do feel bad that was something that was just lingering around the university," Thomas said. "But everything's going to get taken care of the right way and I hope the coaching staff and the whole university knows that those were the best four years of my life."
"Everything will come out," he added. "But it will come out on the better end, hopefully."
According to NCAA bylaw article 16, “Receipt of a benefit by student-athletes or their relatives or friends is not a violation of NCAA legislation if it is demonstrated that the same benefit is generally available to the institution’s students or their relatives or friends or to a particular segment of the student body… determined on a basis unrelated to athletics ability.”
After the lawsuit was settled, it remained unknown whether or not Thomas and/or the jewelers would cooperate with an NCAA investigation. If they do not cooperate, it appeared unlikely that the NCAA would be able to dig up any information on the case without the participation of the two major parties.
There has yet to be any indication by Thomas or the jewelers of how he got the money or why he received the credit, so whether or not he received impermissible benefits is publicly unknown at this time.