Duke Superstar Zion Williamson Involved in Bribe with Nike?
Duke University is investigating celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti’s claim that freshman star Zion Williamson’s mother was paid by Nike to ensure her son would play for Duke.
“We are aware of the allegation and, as we would with any compliance matter, are looking into it,” Duke athletic director Kevin White said. “Duke is fully committed to compliance with all NCAA rules and regulations. Every student athlete at Duke is reviewed to ensure their eligibility. With regard to men’s basketball; all recruits and their families are thoroughly vetted by Duke in collaboration with the NCAA through the Eligibility Center’s amateurism certification process.”
In his tweet, Avenatti cited that Nike paid Williamson’s mother Sharonda Sampson for ‘bogus consulting services’ during Williamson’s final year in high school in 2016-17.
In addition to this case, Avenatti has also alleged that Nike paid other notable pre basketball stars, such as Deandre Ayton and Bol Bol.
Avenatti’s allegations also come after federal prosecutors indicted him for trying to extort Nike and defraud a bank. Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski was asked about the claims and said, “there’s nothing here.”
Duke’s athletic department does have a contract with Nike that is reportedly worth over $4 million per year. The specific details of this relationship are unknown, in terms of whether Nike pays Coach K directly. Either way, this is all a very gray area, as payments are bribes have become common in college basketball.
Zion fans, don’t worry. He is of course still expected to declare for the upcoming NBA draft.