This will come as no surprise to those of you who have been paying attention, but Matt Norlander reports for CBS Sports that the jeweler who sold Lance Thomas the $97,000 in custom jewelry is not cooperating with the NCAA, nor are they likely to do so:
Why won't Rafaello & Co. comply with the NCAA? Well, one, why should they? It's really of no gain to them whether Duke is somehow eventually punished for this transaction. The company just wants the money it's owed, that's all. But secondly, as is the norm, since the matter is now going through legal alleys, officially speaking to other entities isn't exactly encouraged or allowed by the lawyers in the case.
Whenever there are ongoing legal proceedings, the NCAA simply will not get involved. It's generally impossible, because no legal team wants their client to talk to third parties who could wind up prejudicing their case, or even their rights in court. The jewelry story is taking this action not to punish Lance Thomas, or get Duke University or Thomas in trouble with anyone. All they want is the rest of their money. I haven't seen the filing, but I don't think they would want the return of the jewelry as an option, because I suspect that much of that money is profit rather than the cost of the raw materials themselves.
Cases like this, if they are not settled immediately, can drag on for a year or two. Meanwhile back at the NCAA ranch in Indianapolis, the clock is ticking on their four-year statute of limitations. Could Lance Thomas drag this thing out for a couple of years? Maybe - certainly for 12 months at least, although I doubt that he will. He really doesn't need to do so, because as long as nobody responds to their queries, there's not much the NCAA can do.
If Thomas did decide to stall, it would give the NCAA precious little, if any, time to file a notice of rules violations before the SoL winds down, and given their reluctance to use the "look-back" provisions we talked about here, at least as far as North Carolina is concerned, I can't imagine them using those provisions against Duke.
As I supposed, it looks like the NCAA is going to take the, "Well, we want to look into this, but nobody will talk to us" defense in order to salvage its public image. It will tell us that it wanted to investigate the issue, but nobody would talk to them about it, and without testimony, they really can't allege anything.
And the SoL deadline will come, and go, just like with Corey Maggette. We know this drill by now, I expect.