Lance Thomas arrives at agreement with jeweler over lawsuit
Lance Thomas reached a settlement with Manhattan jewelers Raefello & Co on Tuesday after paying up on a $67,800 credit, confirmed the company hired attorney Mike Bowers.
During his senior year in late December, Lance Thomas made a $97,000 purchase of five diamond encrusted jewelry pieces at the Raefello & Co, and after he made a $30,000 down payment for the items. Lance Thomas was extended a credit on the remaining amount according to a signed document which required the dues to be paid within a 15-day period. However, Lance Thomas defaulted on the amount and the jeweler filed a lawsuit against the player during January of 2010.
Mike Bowers relayed last week that the jeweler had declined to cooperate with regards to providing it’s confidential transaction record to the NCAA.
Neither is Lance Thomas under any obligation to reveal his source for down payment (since the NCAA perceives it difficult for a student-athlete to come-up with the $30,000 amount). Lance Thomas is no longer an active player with the NCAA, which means he isn’t bound to reveal information to the organization or Duke.
"A lot of these extra benefit cases, the person that provided the benefit might not be willing to talk to the NCAA,” said former Colorado State assistant director of compliance John Infante.
Attorney Stu Brown of Ice Miller in Indianapolis revealed that under those circumstances it will become difficult come up with evidence making it impossible to pursue the case.
However, Stu Brown insisted that Duke is bound to cooperate with NCAA, facilitating it with any known information relevant to the case and by urging Lance Thomas to assist the NCAA too.
"Without information from Thomas or the store, people may smell smoke, but it will be difficult to find a fire,” said Stu Brown.
Stu Brown believed that NCAA must focus on issues such as: “"Did Thomas get a special settlement due to his status as a former Duke student-athlete? Did a Duke booster help with the settlement?"
If Lance Thomas and the jeweler had laid out a confidentiality agreement regarding the origins of the down payment, Stu Brown felt it could further complicate the case.
"If there are benign explanations regarding the underlying transaction and the settlement agreement,” said Stu Brown, “the settlement agreement could allow one or both parties to talk to the NCAA, but not to comment publicly.”
Stu Brown said that if the confidentiality settlement holds back a third party from giving a statement on the case, then “"it is likely that this case will eventually fade away due to an absence of relevant information/evidence about what really happened.”
The 24-year-old Lance Thomas was a starter on the Duke’s 2010 national championship title team and started total 39 games for the Blue Devils. Although Lance Thomas went undrafted he caught up with NBA’s New Orleans Hornets landing 43 game appearances last season.