Since the Lance Thomas Jesus Piece story first broke, and appeared -- again: I said appeared -- to have all the makings of a surefire NCAA violations scandal, it very quickly appeared that the NCAA was going to end up stuck.
The jeweler that sued Thomas for nearly $70,000 in unpaid store debt (which, along with a $30,000 down payment, Thomas allegedly purchased a wide range of expensive jewelry) wasn't going to be talking to the NCAA. After the two sides came to a settlement on the suit, a confidentiality agreement signed by both parties would likely keep them from sharing any information with the NCAA. The whole thing, conspicuous though it seemed, appeared to be a dead end.
Which is why it is somewhat surprising to hear from Thomas himself. On Monday, the Durham Herald-Sun's Steve Wiseman got Thomas on the record for the first time since the story broke, which is interesting in and of itself. Unfortunately, it's hard to say the same for Thomas's comments:
When asked if he was involved in an NCAA violation, Thomas said, “No. I don’t think so.”
[...] “There’s more to it but I’m not going to comment on it right now,” Thomas said. “Everything will unfold once everything is taken care of the right way.”
[...] “I do feel bad that that was something that is lingering around the university,” Thomas said. “But everything is going to be taken care of the right way. I hope the coaching staff and the whole university know that those were the best four years of my life and I love Duke until I die. But I have to take care of things the right way and I’ll reach back out to them when I can.”
To be honest, I'm not sure why Thomas even picked up the phone, or agreed to the interview, because other than an apology, there isn't much he seems willing to say about it. And rightfully so: Thomas would be in a precarious position even without a confidentiality agreement hanging over his head -- at worst, this could have (and may still) turn into a referendum on his eligibility during Duke's 2010 national championship season -- and the last thing he needs to do is end up back in court because he's too eager to explain himself. So, you know, I get it.
But other than Thomas making clear that he hadn't spoken with the NCAA or Duke, I'm not sure there's much to see here. If there's more to the story than we've gotten so far, this won't help you fill in the blanks. And there are still plenty of blanks.