Zion Williamson may have to respond to allegations that his parents applied for and accepted illegal benefits while he was at Duke.
On Tuesday, a Florida judge denied his request for a discovery stay on whether he violated NCAA rules when he played for the Blue Devils. The ruling, by 11th Circuit Circuit Court Judge David Florida, requires Williamson to answer questions from attorneys representing Gina Ford and Prime Sports Marketing, the agency he initially signed with out of college.
Williamson, who later signed with CAA after withdrawing from the initial agreement, alleged that the contract with Prime Sports violated the North Carolina Uniformed Athletes Agents Act because the agency is not certified by the NBA Players Association or by a North Carolina or Florida Prime Sports registered athlete agent counter-defendant, saying Williamson is in breach of a five-year contract and that CAA tampered with the deal.
Before Williamson has to comply with the ruling, his attorneys can file an appeal with the state’s Third District Court of Appeals. Last month, Ford’s attorneys asked Williamson to admit that his mother and stepfather asked for and received money, gifts, and other benefits from Nike, Adidas, and people associated with Duke to attend ACC school and wear one of the products of stealth companies.
“That problem is a full canard and a full red herring,” attorney Jeffrey Klein, who represents Williamson, said during a virtual hearing Tuesday morning. “[W]We believe that statute prohibits such a contract. The problem regarding amateur status, there is no problem regarding your amateur status, and in fact, if you wanted to find out the problem regarding amateur status, eligibility is a determination made by the NCAA and made by Duke . I don’t think it’s relevant here to what’s going on because, frankly, those determinations have been made. … does not absolve your breach of North Carolina law. “
Ford’s attorneys’ argument is that North Carolina law would not apply to Williamson if he received benefits that would make him ineligible in the year he was at Duke.
“The NCAA is not the final arbiter on that issue,” said attorney Doug Eaton. “We can establish that you were not eligible during that time period, which would be a defense to your claim that our contract was invalid. The purpose of this statute is to protect student athletes, real student athletes, eligible student athletes, from Predatory Behavior of Agents It is not designed to protect people who are already accepting inappropriate benefits.
“If you accept inappropriate benefits, you are not an eligible student athlete, and the NCAA can retroactively decide that you are not eligible.” It has happened many times before. … This is not an immovable determination that you are an eligible student-athlete, and we have an opportunity to demonstrate that you were not eligible in that time period, and that is what we are going to do. “