Last Friday, news broke about former Duke player Lance Thomas’ defaulted loan for almost $100,000 worth of bling back in 2009. On the day he bought the jewels (a black diamond necklace, a diamond-encrusted watch, a diamond cross, diamond earrings, and a black diamond pendant in the shape of Jesus’ head), Thomas made a $30,000 down payment and signed an agreement to pay the remaining $67,300 balance within fifteen days. Almost three years later, the loan has not been repaid, which gives the NCAA fifteen more months to take action until the four-year statute of limitations expires. The problem? No one’s talking.
Lance Thomas certainly isn’t talking, which is expected. He’s no longer a Duke student, and therefore has no obligation to the NCAA. The only other party that can give the NCAA the evidence it needs to take action is the jeweler, who has refused to talk to the NCAA because the lawsuit is still ongoing. Laura Keely of the Raleigh News Observer interviewed NCAA compliance expert John Infante about the issue, which he says could be a catch-22 if the jeweler stays quiet:
“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.”
The jeweler has no reason to talk to the NCAA. They just want their money, which, in order to keep the 2010 NCAA Championship banner up in Cameron, I’m willing to bet someone in Durham will take care of. To begin an investigation, the NCAA must send Duke a notice of allegations, but they must have legitimate evidence to support it. So, as long as Thomas and the jeweler stay quiet (and they have every reason to), the NCAA’s hands are tied. So, Thomas and Duke, may very well get off scot free.
Frustrating doesn’t even cover it.