Thomas, Duke clear of wrongdoing in jewelry case

Posted April 30, 2013

— Former Duke basketball player Lance Thomas, who bought nearly $100,000 in jewelry during the 2009-10 season while a member of the Blue Devils, did not commit any NCAA violations, according to a statement from the school Tuesday.

“The NCAA has found no evidence of a rules violation in this situation based on the information available, and both the NCAA and Duke consider the matter closed,” the university said.

In an email, the NCAA sconfirmed the statement from the university but would not confirm that Thomas or the jeweler were interviewed during the investigation process. The NCAA does not have legal subpoena power.

A lawsuit filed in January 2012 in Austin, Texas, and made public in September, revealed that Thomas purchased $97,800 worth of jewelry from Rafaello & Co. in December 2009. It alleged that Thomas made a $30,000 down payment and agreed to pay the remaining balance in 15 days. Thomas defaulted on that payment and was sued for the remaining balance.

Items purchased included a black diamond necklace, a diamond-encrusted watch, a pair of diamond stud earrings, a diamond cross and a black diamond pendant in the shape of the head of Jesus.

Records show the purchase date of the jewelry from the Manhattan-based company was Dec. 21, which coincides with the Blue Devils' trip to New York where Duke played Gonzaga at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 19.

The lawsuit was filed in Texas because Thomas was playing in the NBA Developmental League with the Austin Toros at the time.

A settlement between Thomas and the jewelry company was reached out of court, although the terms were not made public. 

Thomas' agent, John Spencer, said Tuesday he was unfamiliar with the details surrounding the NCAA's decision and that Thomas' lawyer, Joe Crews, had been dealing with the specifics of the case. Telephone messages to Crews were not immediately returned.

When learning of the lawsuit, Duke University notified the NCAA of possible violations related to impermissible benefits. At Duke’s preseason media day in October, head coach Mike Krzyzewski said, “Before anything was made public, they started working together to go through a process of seeing what happened. As a result of that, we want to honor the integrity of that process.”

Rafaello & Co. lists clients including Jay-Z, Lil' Wayne, Beyonce, Brandon Phillips, Willis McGahee and Chad Ochocinco.

Duke went 35-5 and defeated Butler to win the national championship in the 2009-10 season. Thomas played in all 40 games, starting 39, that season averaging 4.8 points and 4.9 rebounds per game.

Thomas was drafted by the Austin Toros of the NBA-D League in 2010. He's been on the New Orleans Hornets since 2011. 


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  • olivechapel1000 May 1, 2013

    “Before anything was made public, they started working together to go through a process of seeing what happened. As a result of that, we want to honor the integrity of that process.” Yes, the defense rests!

  • swimfreak19 May 1, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Because no one would give a shish kabob if it weren't a duke player.

  • heelsforever May 1, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Even if someone came out and said there are some really bad things here and a lot of it, you would have some people who would always believe it was even worse. Tons of stuff came about about UNC and yet the Fackers still believe there is more...and maybe there is, but my point is, even if the NCAA burned down Chapel Hill there would be State fans who still believe there was more to find and harsher punishments were deserved. That's the nature of some fans in every base. State just has more of them.

  • heelsforever May 1, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Exactly! We would have to listen to Holden blubber about what bad boys we've been and how deeply sorry we are, but we will get to the bottom of this.

  • jdupree May 1, 2013

    Cleared is not the word, not telling a lie is not the same as telling the truth.

  • 903 mens national championships May 1, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Duke fans are, no doubt, happy they have been let off the hook. But that's all that happened here - the NCAA gave them a pass.I'm happy that this appears to be an isolated incident and not a case where there were 2,3,5,10,20, etc. repeat occurences of this coming out of the Duke basketball program. I can understand why people that don't like Duke are unhappy that this is an isolated incident and that the NCAA couldn't really get all of the facts whether they made Duke guilty or innocent. The bad news though is that since no one will ever get all of the facts, they will assume Duke did something wrong.

  • NothingButNet May 1, 2013

    View quoted thread

    You're absolutely right, Ken. The statement IS carefully worded, and if it's not scrutinized, it's easy to think that Duke is saying Thomas didn't violate any rules.

    I also agree that this another example of the NCAA not biting the hand that feeds them. High profile schools and athletic programs seem to get preferential treatment from the NCAA.

  • StunGunn May 1, 2013

    View quoted thread

    We'll never really know the truth, but in the realm of what goes on at schools, I'd say this is small potatoes, it's over and done with, and time to move on.

  • vile garbage May 1, 2013

    Look at it this way, who was at risk of losing the most if this was found out to be true? K. Now, who in the Duke program makes a lot of money that could throw away 30k? Hmmmm.

  • 903 mens national championships May 1, 2013

    View quoted thread

    Link to where I ran a marathon?




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