Thomas investigation shows ‘no evidence’ of violation
The NCAA has found no violations in former Duke basketball player Lance Thomas’ 2009 jewelry purchase, and Duke will not face any discipline over the situation.
“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,” Duke spokesman Art Chase said in a statement on Tuesday.
As a senior in December 2009, Thomas made a $97,800 purchase from Manhattan jeweler A&A Diamonds. According the purchase agreement he signed, Thomas was to pay a $67,800 balance within 15 days.
When he didn’t comply, Rafaello and Company, which owns A&A Diamonds, filed a lawsuit against Thomas in a Texas court. Thomas was playing for the NBA Developmental League’s Austin Toros when the suit was filed in January 2012.
That lawsuit was settled out of court in September with both sides agreeing to a confidentiality clause.
NCAA amateurism rules prohibit athletes from receiving benefits that aren’t available to the school’s general student body. Thomas played in 39 games for Duke as a senior in 2009-10, starting all six NCAA Tournament games as the Blue Devils captured their fourth national championship with a 61-59 win over Butler.
But because his college career had been over for more than two years by the time the lawsuit became public in September, Thomas was under no obligation to speak to the NCAA as part of its investigation.
His only public comments on the matter came in October when the New Orleans Hornets, Thomas’s NBA employer, opened training came in suburban New Orleans.
During an interview with The Herald-Sun and the Associated Press, Thomas was asked if he broke any NCAA rules with his jewelry purchase.
“No,” Thomas said. “I don’t think so.”
Thomas said he intended to speak to the NCAA “eventually.” But that has not occurred.
Rafaello and Company also did not discuss the matter with the NCAA.
As for how his actions affected Duke, Thomas expressed regret for putting the Blue Devils program and Coach Mike Krzyzewski in a difficult situation.
“I do feel bad that that was something that is lingering around the university,” Thomas said in October. “But everything is going to be taken care of the right way. I hope the coaching staff and the whole university know that those were the best four years of my life, and I love Duke until I die. But I have to take care of things the right way, and I’ll reach back out to them when I can.”
Duke officials learned about the jewelry purchase in September when an Associated Press reporter discovered the lawsuit and contacted the athletic department. In turn, Duke’s compliance office contacted the NCAA, and both sides worked in conjunction to investigate the matter.
Krzyzewski has declined comment on the matter with the exception once in October when he said the school would cooperate fully with the NCAA in its investigation.
Krzyzewski also said he was “very proud of our compliance record over the 33 years that we’ve been here.”