Remember two weeks ago, when we heard about Lance Thomas having defaulted on a loan meant to pay for $97,000 worth of jewelry, and we got all excited and wrote this?
If this is the first time you're hearing about this, savor the moment: there's a good chance you'll be sick of it pretty soon, even if you hate Duke [...] Even if the store's deal doesn't implicate Thomas in any infraction, there's an NCAA investigator out there beginning, or maybe in the middle of, a search into where Thomas might have gotten $30,000 to spend on jewelry. If Thomas is ruled retroactively ineligible, that vacates the 2010 national championship [...]
No? Well I wish I hadn't reminded you, because it was totally wrong. You might never hear about this Lance Thomas thing again, and that national championship trophy is probably staying put.
Thomas reached a settlement with the jewelers that were suing him, and it seems have been a carefully worded one, with the provision that the jewelers won't cooperate with an NCAA investigation. Lawyers for the jewelry store "confirmed to the News & Observer last week that his client had declined to speak with the NCAA about a possible extra benefits investigation." That paper notes, "If the NCAA wants to pursue an investigation, the task will be much tougher without input from the jeweler."
"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," John Infante, a former assistant director of compliance at Colorado State who now writes a blog on compliance issues, said last week. "A lot of these extra benefit cases, the person that provided the benefit might not be willing to talk to the NCAA."
That article says Lance Thomas owes money elsewhere, but it's $825 in unpaid rent, which is about normal for a college student. There were always going to be two questions—why did the jewelers extend Thomas the loan, and where did he get the first $30,000—but the first one seems to be moot now, and the second half is a lot harder to pin down. Thomas could have gotten that money anywhere—including many sources that fit within the NCAA bylaws. The NCAA may decide to investigate, but this probably won't end up like Tressel being purged from Ohio State, or Chris Webber's booster invalidating Michigan's championships. Oh well—I guess we'll just have to wait to learn that the 2001 national championship is invalidated because Carlos Boozer bought $97,000 worth of head paint.
Former Duke basketball Player Lance Thomas Settles Jewelry Lawsuit [Charlotte News and Observer]