Jeweler settles lawsuit against former Duke basketball player Lance Thomas

Lance Thomas #42 of the Duke Blue Devils looks to pass the ball in the second half against the Butler Bulldogs during the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 5, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Duke won 61-59. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

(CBS/AP) DALLAS - Former Duke basketball player Lance Thomas has settled a lawsuit that accused him of failing to pay nearly $68,000 for jewelry purchased while he was part of the Blue Devils team that won the 2010 national championship.

Mike Bowers, the attorney for Rafaello & Co., said his client had agreed to settle the lawsuit against Thomas stemming from the nearly $100,000 in diamond jewelry the player purchased in the middle of the 2009-2010 season. The Dallas attorney said the terms are confidential, and he reiterated his client's unwillingness to discuss the matter with the NCAA, which is seeking details of the transaction.

"This is a private matter between my client and Mr. Thomas, and that's where it stands," Bowers said Tuesday.

Jeweler suing former Duke basketball player won't talk to NCAA

The lawsuit, filed in January in Austin, Texas, said Thomas owed $67,800 for five pieces of jewelry he purchased at a cost of $97,800. The invoice, dated Dec. 21, 2009, indicates that Thomas made a $30,000 down payment and agreed to pay the balance in 15 days.

Thomas started 39 games at forward for Duke in 2009-2010, his senior season, including the 61-59 victory over Butler in the NCAA championship game.

The lawsuit, which wasn't disclosed publicly until The Associated Press reported it earlier this month, has raised questions about Thomas' eligibility that season and whether Duke's national title could be affected. NCAA rules prohibit athletes from receiving benefits that aren't available to the student body as a whole.

NCAA spokeswoman Stacey Osburn said Tuesday the organization would not comment on the settlement and what it might mean in terms of investigating the matter. NCAA rules require student-athletes and personnel at member schools to cooperate with the organization's inquiries, but there's nothing to compel people who aren't affiliated with those schools to do so.

CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish says he suspects the settlement includes the jeweler continuing to refuse to speak to the NCAA.

"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," Parrish writes. "And I'm not sure the NCAA would strip Duke of a national championship without somebody involved in this case talking."

Thomas, now with the New Orleans Hornets, was playing last season for the Austin Toros of the NBA Developmental League when the suit was filed. He wasn't drafted by an NBA team when he left Duke.

Joe Crews, the Austin attorney handling the matter for Thomas, did not immediately return a phone message from the AP seeking comment.

Rafaello & Co., which also does business as A+A Diamonds Ltd., promotes itself as a jeweler that caters to professional athletes and other celebrities. On its website, the jeweler says its customers include actor Jamie Foxx, singer Alicia Keys and New York Knicks star Carmelo Anthony.

The firm filed a similar lawsuit against Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant last year, asserting that he owed $240,000 for jewelry he purchased between January and May 2010. The purchases occurred after Bryant had left Oklahoma State and was waiting for the NFL draft.

That suit also was settled out of court.

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