When asked, Rafaello & Co. declined to speak with the NCAA since the matter is the subject of ongoing litigation, said Mike Bowers, the jewelers' lawyer.
“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,” (John) Infante said.
Infante is a friend of the blog and one of the experts regarding NCAA issues. And he's on the money, of course. There's a big pull and tug here. The public (read: foaming Duke dissidents) want the school to get punishment. They want Thomas to be found guilty of receiving an extra benefit, a grand one and therefore vacate the school's 2009-10 national title, coach Mike Krzyzewski's fourth.
But if no one speaks on the record about it -- and we'll wait to see how this lawsuit gets settled, if it goes to court, and if court documents show how the money was obtained by Thomas -- then the NCAA is left with its hands in the air and no means to punish Duke.
If that happens, there will be an outcry. But the fact is the NCAA needs a lot of help from where it sits. The first step in action toward Duke is a Notice of Allegations, but that can't come until it has sufficient on-record evidence of wrongdoing. The catch: said evidence is probably only going to be obtained via interviews with affiliated parties.
There is a four-year opportunity of investigation at play here. Afterward, the statute of limitations goes into effect. Since Thomas' nearly $100,000 jewelry purchase in Manhattan on Dec. 21, 2009, the NCAA has approximately 15 months left to determine if it has enough information to send that letter to Durham.