With yesterday’s news breaking about former Duke basketball player Lance Thomas purchasing $97,800 worth of jewelry during his senior season at Duke, speculation has arisen that it could potentially lead to vacating the Blue Devils’ 2010 national championship.
Thomas, according to the AP, paid $30,000 for the jewelry up front and is being sued for the remaining balance. If it is deemed he received that money or the credit from the store because of his status as a basketball player, an improper benefit as defined by the NCAA, he could be deemed ineligible, putting Duke’s season in question.
Two college basketball analysts—among others—have opined that if he were deemed ineligible, it will put Duke’s championship banner in question. To be clear, this is all speculation very early in the game.
Here is Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel:
Not only does the NCAA have a potential infractions case on its hands that could touch Mike Krzyzewski’s legendary program and cause the vacating of Duke’s 2010 NCAA title, it could serve as proof of whether the NCAA is truly willing to equally enforce its rules no matter the accused….
In this case, did Rafaello & Co. allow a 21-year-old to borrow $67,800 because that 21-year-old was a starter on the eventual national champions and thus considered a potential NBA player who would not only be likely to pay the balance but become a return customer? Is it standard practice to let young people make that substantial of a purchase with just 30 percent down?
If not, Duke could be in trouble.
That could mean Lance Thomas was ineligible by receiving that “extra benefit.” If he was ineligible, then every game Duke played from Dec. 21 on could be vacated. That would include the 2010 Final Four, which Duke won, delivering Coach K his fourth national title. And thus Duke would vacate the championship. (It would not be awarded to runner-up Butler, either. There would just be no champion.)
Gary Parrish of CBS makes a similar point, noting that there is even precedent from Memphis for one player’s ineligibility—without it being the school’s fault—to lead to a vacating of wins:
But how in the world was Duke supposed to know about this, Parrish?
In fairness, that’s a reasonable question. But it’s also beside the point because the NCAA set a precedent of “strict liability” when it stripped Memphis of its trip to the 2008 Final Four. The NCAA concluded after Derrick Rose’s college career was complete that somebody took the SAT for him, that his qualifying score wasn’t his qualifying score. So the NCAA ruled the subsequent NBA Most Valuable Player ineligible and stripped Memphis of its Final Four even though the NCAA never charged Memphis with any wrongdoing or suggested Memphis knew about Rose’s fraudulent SAT or even should’ve known about Rose’s fraudulent SAT.
The NCAA said it didn’t matter.
Memphis played an ineligible player so Memphis paid the price.
Again, to be clear, this is all just speculation at this point. Duke fans, what do you think? Fair or unfair? Realistic or unrealistic? Let us know in the comments section.
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