View Full Version : Ex-Duke player being sued by jeweler
09-07-2012, 05:32 PM
Lance Thomas was a starter on Duke's last national championship team. Apparently, he ordered up some custom jewelry and provided the jeweler a 30k down payment, while he was a student. He's now being sued for the 68k that he still owes.
Lance Thomas purchased five pieces of diamond jewelry at a cost of $97,800 on Dec. 21, 2009, in the middle of his senior season, according the lawsuit. Documents included with the suit indicate he made a $30,000 down payment and received $67,800 in credit from the firm, the balance that remains unpaid.
Thomas started 39 games at forward during the 2009-2010 season, including the Blue Devils' 61-59 victory over Butler in the championship game. He wasn't drafted by an NBA team but played last season for the New Orleans Hornets.
Mike Bowers, the firm's attorney, said Thomas purchased a black diamond necklace, a diamond-encrusted watch, a pair of diamond studs, a diamond cross and a black diamond pendant in the shape of Jesus' head. According to the purchase order, signed by Thomas, the player agreed to pay a deposit of at least 25 percent of the purchase price and the remainder in 15 days.
I'm not posting this to suggest that this is a case of clear cut cheating. However, unless Thomas has some significant family money at his disposal, this doesn't look likely to be on the up and up IMO. Apparently, Thomas was confident he was going to be able to pay nearly 100 grand for the jewelry in the span of 15 days.
It'll be interesting to see if this gets the UNC treatment that I expect it to. Perhaps the NCAA can find an ex Duke basketball player to conduct the investigation (like they did with UNC).
If Thomas is found to be ineligible, this will be the second time Duke would have won a national championship with the help of an ineligible player (Corey Maggette). My guess is neither time will result in the vacated wins that "strict liability" calls for in matters like these.
Gregg Doyel @GreggDoyelCBS
If Lance Thomas broke NCAA rules - maybe his family's rich, who knows? - the NCAA better not Maggette this one, too
09-07-2012, 08:34 PM
Gary Parrish echoes my thoughts:
Perhaps Lance Thomas just found $30,000 cash laying on the ground.
Maybe by the concession stand at Cameron Indoor.
But short of that -- or something equally hard to imagine, like a lottery win or an unknown inheritance -- it's difficult to come up with a way that the former Duke standout could've made a $30,000 down payment to a New York jewelery store during his senior year that won't place the Blue Devils' national championship from that season in jeopardy. Put simply, this looks bad and could be really, really bad for one of America's most celebrated programs.
The other problem here is that the NCAA will want to know -- or at least the NCAA should want to know -- how Thomas received nearly $70,000 in credit from a jewelry firm when he was merely a student-athlete because NCAA rules prohibit student-athletes from receiving benefits not available to all students. In other words, could a normal Duke senior with no job get a New York firm to provide a nearly $70,000 line of credit? If not, Thomas received an improper benefit.
Which could make him retroactively ineligible.
Which could mean Duke played an ineligible player.
Which could mean Duke will be stripped of its national title.
But how in the world was Duke supposed to know about this, Parrish?
In fairness, that's a reasonable question. But it's also beside the point because the NCAA set a precedent of "strict liability" when it stripped Memphis of its trip to the 2008 Final Four. The NCAA concluded after Derrick Rose's college career was complete that somebody took the SAT for him, that his qualifying score wasn't his qualifying score. So the NCAA ruled the subsequent NBA Most Valuable Player ineligible and stripped Memphis of its Final Four even though the NCAA never charged Memphis with any wrongdoing or suggested Memphis knew about Rose's fraudulent SAT or even should've known about Rose's fraudulent SAT.
The NCAA said it didn't matter.
Memphis played an ineligible player so Memphis paid the price.
That's the term the NCAA used.
So it'll be interesting to see what happens next -- whether Thomas has a plausible explanation for where he got $30,000 for a down payment on jewelry and how he got a nearly $70,000 line of credit from a jewelry store. And, if he doesn't have a plausible explanation, it'll be fascinating to see whether the NCAA plays its "strict liability" card again and strips Duke of its 2010 national title like it stripped Memphis of its 2008 Final Four.
Would the NCAA really do that to the Blue Devils?
To Coach K?
09-07-2012, 08:44 PM
The answer we all know is: this will get swept under the rug. As media-darlings and NCAA moneymakers, they might get a warning. That's about it.
09-08-2012, 03:17 AM
The NCAA might make this an eligibility issue and not a compliance issue ala Fred Taylor and Reidel Anthony when investigating that Palm Beach Co deputy sheriff who was an UGa/Mich State guy anyway. As I remember he gave them money in high school.
But eve if Duke is not found at fault, it seems games Thomas played in must be forfeited. Personally, I think the NCAA should look hard at this as a compliance issue too. Thomas was a Duke player when this happened. It will be interesting to see what the NCAA does.
As a side note, I am curious as to why the NCAA let's UK get away with cheating by having an athletic dorm for basketball players? That was done away with years ago and really I am not sure why UK basketball players should have any better chance than other students at a particular dorm. That certainly gives UK advantages in recruiting in violation of NCAA rules.
09-08-2012, 03:37 AM
On the UKDorms I guess it is a recruiting advantage to have a shrine type dorm, but honestly it had a big brother is watching kind of vibe with all those cameras, an antiseptic look, and wouldn't some players actually want to have at least a somewhat normal college experience? If the players take only online classes they never he need to interact with real students at all. I'm sure the big single room is popular.
09-08-2012, 07:20 AM
I think the Memphis case is the only one where the NCAA used the strict liability standard. These kinds of cases come up all the time, and the NCAA standard is whether the program had "known or should have known" that the player was not eligible. If so, you forfeit the games and may be subject to sanctions. If not, then only the player gets punished.
09-08-2012, 07:30 AM
Just another opportunity to remind us what a joke they are as an enforcement agency.
09-08-2012, 07:42 AM
This one could be tricky. If a player from a poor family suddenly starts driving around in a Lexus, you (the school) know something's up, and are resonsible. If he's purchased a zillion dollars worth of jewelry, but doesn't actually wear his new bling around, no one might ever know, and the responsibility is less certain.
Anyone know what this kid's financial background is?
On the other hand, Duke's student body is 99% prep school rich snots from the privileged class. So this kind of thing might be the norm.
09-08-2012, 08:23 AM
Let's see if this turns into a media frenzy! I can't wait to see what the NCAA does with this. I'm sure the answer is nothing just like in chapel hill.
09-08-2012, 10:08 AM
A few thoughts based on some of the things posted above:
1. "this kind of thing" isn't the norm at a prep school or a private college. Sure, there are tons of rich kids running around - including kids who would have 30k at their disposal. Thomas' mother works as a manager at a Ford factory. Manager is a catch all type of term. I know several managers at the local Toyota factory that couldn't front their kids 30k even if they wanted to. However, I'm sure when you're getting into upper management salaries are higher. The fact is though that the average Duke student isn't getting a 70 thousand dollar line of credit. The credit is, most likely, the key to this indecent - as figuring out/proving where he got the down payment is difficult to do.
2. Unless someone connected to Duke is INCREDIBLY stupid, this isn't a compliance issue. It clearly falls into the eligibility category unless evidence shedding light on Duke's involvement or knowledge were to surface. The only other option is if the NCAA were to bring up the concept of a lack of institutional control. IMO, this is not likely.
3. Gotham is right that the Memphis case is the only one the NCAA cited "strict liability." Its actually the case that caused the NCAA to create the term. However, they've used the spirit of this concept before. Calipari's other incident (Camby) is a good example of this. This is the case where the NCAA actually declared Calipari "an innocent victim" - yet the school vacated wins that involved a retroactively found-to-be ineligible player. This case is actually a better comparison to that of Lance Thomas. If the NCAA is to be consistent (it was hard to even type that), then Duke forfeits every win that came after Lance took out the loan - should it be determined that this loan was something that is above and beyond what the average student could secure. Its as simple as that. Really.
3. Come to think of it, where's Pete Thamel on this? He must have missed that whole UNC scandal as well? Wonder what he's up to?
4. Tupac and Jeff hit the nail on the head. I agree with both statements emphatically.
5. Is it not hilarious that it, in a thread about Coach K and Duke potentially vacating wins (K not being all time winningest...), it took just two posts by gator fans before this was turned into a discussion on UK dorm cheating? Gotta be kidding me. This is something that's clearly evident on NBN though. Its hard to get a thread about UNC or Duke "cheating" to last until the second page. We're talking two of the most storied programs of all time! The absolute media darlings of the sport. Darlings that can do no wrong. Yet some obscure article (or 40 of them in the last couple years) about a potential problem with Cal or Kentucky, an article citing no sources, not even providing anything of substance, can end up 8+ pages. Not just one thread like this, but monthly ones. I'm not complaining. Its your board. I just don't get it. You guys aren't like this in football. Many of you were passionate about OSU, Penn State, USC, etc. Its not like you really only care about FSU or Bama.
6. Maybe the new UK dorms can have their very own thread, but I actually don't even see how its an interesting topic. The NCAA recently wrote an 8 page letter to Kentucky making it vacate, essentially, its premature celebration of Calipari's 500th win! You think they're going to turn a blind eye to an illegal dorm??? If anyone has a problem with the dorm, blame the NCAA for making it easy for the school to bypass the spirit of the rule's intent by making the dorm include a certain number of regular students as well (thus keeping it from being a rules violation). The thought that its dorms like these that make athletes not have the typical student experience is laughable. They don't have the same experience that any of us did. I don't care what school they play basketball or football at.
7. Bringing this back to Duke. Lets not kid ourselves that this kind of thing doesn't happen fairly often. Lets just think of what had to happen for us to even find out about this. Lance had to fail to pay back a relatively small amount of money for an NBA player and the Jeweler had to decide to sue him. Otherwise we'd have never known. This happens everywhere and is next to impossible to prove - or even find out about. Rules are rules though.
09-08-2012, 10:32 AM
Count Dan Wetzel in with his latest article:
Not only does the NCAA have a potential infractions case on its hands that could touch Mike Krzyzewski's legendary program and cause the vacating of Duke's 2010 NCAA title, it could serve as proof of whether the NCAA is truly willing to equally enforce its rules no matter the accused.
Knowledge matters not when it comes to sanctions, though. At least, that's what the NCAA said when it vacated the University of Memphis' entire 2007-08 season, including its runner-up finish in the NCAA tournament. That was over a sketchy standardized test score from guard Derrick Rose. The NCAA ruled that no one at Memphis knew about the test nor should they have known about the test. Memphis was still stripped of its Final Four. The term the NCAA used was "strict liability."
Rose was ineligible and nothing else mattered.
Not just for Duke, but for the NCAA, which, for decades, has been criticized for supposedly enforcing its rules differently against different programs. Memphis was coached by John Calipari; a far easier target than Krzyzewski. Even if additional sanctions are highly unlikely because of the Duke coaches' ignorance, the vacating of the title would hurt enough.
Cal and the Tigers wailed about "strict liability," but few cared when the Final Four was stripped. It would be a different public-relations situation for Coach K.
How about this one though. Seems as if the Jeweler may have more information than just the lease:
That's where the details of the case will matter, and right now, Duke might have an aggrieved party, Rafaello & Co., ready to talk to the NCAA.
"Speaking hypothetically," the jeweler's attorney, Mike Bowers, told the AP, "if he came in on a bicycle with tattered jeans, I doubt seriously he would have been sold jewelry, but I'm not drawing conclusions. The terms here are clear."
09-08-2012, 02:48 PM
I had been thinking about the UK dorm issue, so I mentioned it on this thread on some team other than UF having issue raised. That seems appropriate to me.
As for Thomas and Duke, I guess I could think of a few explanation for the jewelry deal that would not impact Duke:
1. Thomas took out an NCAA approved insurance policy against future pro earnings, borrowed money against the policy as is allowed and decide to spend almost $100,000 on jewelry.
2. As hoped on a Duke site I saw last night, Thomas' car assembly plant manager mother had a college fund for him and once it became clear he would finish his career at Duke, cashed it an let Thomas have the money.
3. Identity theft, that is someone other than Thomas entered into this contract.
4. Thomas individually inherited some money and spent it on the jewelry.
Anyone have any other possibilities?
I will say, Thomas' choice certainly undermines any recruiting pitch that your kid will learn more and make better choices than if he went to UF or UK or KU or UNC etc. Also I wonder where he thought he was getting $67,000 to pay off the 15 day note?
09-08-2012, 07:58 PM
1) Thomas wanted to confirm he is a moron. He decided that instead of waiting to the pros to make a stupid showing of wealth he would start in college. I can only imagine how gaudy and ugly the pieces he bought were. he couldn't wait to buy a depreciating asset on his way to future bankruptcy. On top of that I guarantee he failed to insure it. Everywhere you turn these athletes and new money entertainers love to flaunt their wealth in the most ridiculous ways.
It's not until their career is nearly over that they gain the perspective that they are idiots without a clue about financial wherewithal. It's how a guy like TO blows through his career earnings 2 years after being out of the league. another moron.
09-09-2012, 06:11 PM
The answer we all know is: this will get swept under the rug. As media-darlings and NCAA moneymakers, they might get a warning. That's about it.
Is the opponent celebrating in that picture?
09-10-2012, 07:26 PM
You mean my sig? The opponent just jumped in front of Parsons. Whatever defensive maneuver it was it didn't work. What an awesome half court shot from Chandler!
09-18-2012, 11:39 AM
This is probably the last we'll hear of this whole incident. Gary Parrish writes that the whole thing will be swept under the rug by the NCAA (more or less).
An unpaid and upset jeweler could've easily told the NCAA it figured it would get the rest of its money from Thomas somehow, someway -- either from a Duke booster, sports agent or from Thomas himself when the forward turned professional after the season. An unpaid and upset jeweler could've said anything, and almost anything said would've suggested the line of credit was an extra benefit. But now the jeweler will never talk; neither will Thomas. And I'm not sure the NCAA would strip Duke of a national championship without somebody involved in this case talking.
Could the NCAA do it?
Yes, it could.
The NCAA can do whatever it wants.
But will it?
So Lance Thomas is probably gonna be the new Corey Maggette.
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