On Dec. 21, 2009, Lance Thomas, then a senior starting forward at Duke, walked into Rafaello & Co., a boutique jeweler on 47th Street in midtown Manhattan that caters to celebrities and professional athletes.
The 21-year-old Thomas bought a black diamond necklace, a diamond-encrusted watch, a diamond cross, diamond earrings, and a black diamond pendant in the shape of Jesus' head. The grand total: $97,800. He paid $30,000. The bill of sale called for the rest within 15 days.
The payment never came, and when the Associated Press on Friday reported the details of his spending spree in a lawsuit seeking payment from Thomas, it sounded the opening bell to what could be a landmark case that affects all of college athletics.
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.
Or whether its current system is even still viable.