|Lance Thomas: off the hook? Most likely. (US Presswire)|
"We have reached a settlement," Mike Bowers, the attorney for Raefello & Co., wrote in an email to the newspaper. "I cannot make further comment."
Which might be a problem for those hoping to see the NCAA punish the Blue Devils because I'd be willing to bet my Shane Battier bobblehead that part of this settlement includes the jeweler continuing to refuse to speak to the NCAA about why it extended $67,800 in credit to Thomas in 2009 while he was still a senior at Duke. When news broke of the lawsuit earlier this month, lots of folks focused on the $30,000 downpayment (in cash!) that Thomas allegedly made to the jeweler. It was an obviously questionable transaction considering Thomas was a student from a single-parent home (and his single parent wasn't Sandra Bullock or anybody with the financial portfolio of Sandra Bullock). But the truth is the NCAA was never going to be able to punish Duke just because it couldn't make sense of how or why Thomas had $30,000 in cash to throw on a necklace. As long as he refused to talk about that, that was going nowhere. What if Thomas won the cash in a poker game? Or in the lottery? No, those explanations aren't believable. But they're possible. So Duke was safe there.
But the line of credit was different.
That's the aspect of this for which there is no reasonable explanation.
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 -- from a Duke booster, a sports agent or from Thomas himself when the forward turned pro after that 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.