According to the Associated Press, former Duke forward Lance Thomas is being sued for not paying an outstanding balance on nearly $100,000 worth of custom jewelry he purchased back in 2009 from a New York-based jeweler.
Where does college basketball come into play for the current New Orleans Hornet? The date of purchase (December 21, 2009; Duke beat Gonzaga 76-41 at Madison Square Garden on the 19th of that month), which lands square in the middle of his senior season at Duke.
The Blue Devils went on to win the national title that season, beating Butler 61-59 in the championship game.
According to the report Thomas dropped a $30,000 down payment for five pieces of diamond jewelry that cost a total of $97,800, and the suit was filed back in January in Austin, Texas.
At the time the suit was filed Thomas was a member of the Austin Toros of the NBA D-League.
The firm, Rafaello & Co., caters to celebrities and professional athletes and approved Thomas for a $67,800 line of credit that remains unpaid.
One question from a compliance standpoint isn’t the fact that Thomas made the purchase but rather where that $30,000 came from.
[Rafaello & Co. attorney Mike] Bowers said he’s seen no evidence that anyone other than Thomas was involved in the transaction and he doesn’t know why the Duke player was extended credit for most of the purchase.
“It was a clean, clear-cut transaction between Mr. Thomas and my client, and I don’t see anything that warrants me asking anything beyond that,” Bowers said. “Speaking hypothetically, 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.”
If Thomas received the money from a relative or a person the NCAA terms as an “established family friend” then there’s no issue with the $30,000.
Rule 18.104.22.168 reads as follows:
A student-athlete may receive a loan from an established family friend without such arrangement constituting an extra benefit, provided: [R] (Adopted: 1/11/94)
- (a) The loan is not offered to the student-athlete based in any degree on his or her athletics ability or reputation;
- (b) The individual providing the loan is not considered a representative of the institution’s athletics interests; and
- (c) The relationship between the individual providing the loan and the student-athlete existed prior to the initiation of the student-athlete’s recruitment by the member institution.
As for the remaining $67,800 the question there is whether or not the loan was provided with Thomas’ future earnings as a professional being considered, which is against NCAA rules.
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Duke associate athletic director for media relations Jon Jackson informed the AP that the school was aware of the lawsuit and was looking into the matter.