Zion Williamson is wrapped up in a nasty legal battle with a former marketing representative, Gina Ford, and her company Prime Marketing Sports, and the battle took another turn last week.
Attorneys representing Ford served requests for admission that Williamson’s parents asked for and received “money, benefits, favors and other things of value” to influence him to wear Nike or Adidas products and to attend Duke.
In a filing with a Florida court, the attorneys representing Ford and Prime Sports asked Williamson to admit under oath that the following things were true:
- Sharonda Sampson, Williamson’s mother, and Lee Anderson, his stepfather, “demanded and received gifts, money and/or other benefits from persons on behalf of Nike (directly and/or indirectly) to influence him to attend Duke.”
- Sampson and Anderson “demanded and received gifts and economic benefits from persons acting on behalf of Duke University (directly and/or indirectly) to influence him to attend Duke.”
- Sampson and Anderson “demanded and received gifts, money and/or other benefits from persons acting on behalf of Adidas (directly and/or indirectly) to influence him to wear Adidas shoes” and to “influence him to attend a college that endorsed Adidas shoes.”
- Before he arrived at Duke for his freshman season, Williamson or someone acting on his behalf “accepted benefits from a NCAA-certified agent that are not expressly permitted by the NCAA legislation” sometime between Jan. 1, 2014, when Williamson was 13 years old, and April 14, 2019.
- In a separate filing, those same attorneys requested that Williamson disclose the address and both he and his parents lived at while he attended Duke, including the name of his landlord and the monthly rent payments.
Requests for admission are a tool used for discovery in civil cases. Under oath with the penalty of perjury hanging over his head, Williamson will be asked to admit or deny whether or not those statements are true.
Last June, Williamson sued Ford and Prime Sports to terminate the agreement he signed with the company claiming that it was in violation of a law in North Carolina that prevents college athletes from signing with someone that is not certified by the NBPA or a registered agent in North Carolina. CAA’s argument is that since Williamson was still able to return to Duke at the time that he signed with Prime Sports, he was still a student-athlete and the contract is void. Prime Sports is asking the questions listed above because if they can prove that Williamson was retroactively ineligible, he was not a student-athlete and the contract stands.
The company is suing Williamson and CAA for $100 million for breach of contract.
Michael Avenatti alleged last year that Nike had paid Williamson’s mother for consulting services while Williamson was still in high school. According to Avenatti’s allegations, Nike approved the payments.
Duke said they investigated and found no evidence of wrongdoing.
In February, Avenatti was convicted of trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike.
In October of 2018, during the trial for former Adidas executives Merl Code and Jim Gatto and former agent Christian Dawkins, Code was caught on a wiretap discussing what it would take to get Williamson to go to Kansas. According to the transcript, which was read in court, Code told Townsend that Anderson was “asking for opportunities from an occupational perspective, he’s asking for money in the pocket and he’s asking for housing for him and the family.”