Zion Williamson has requested a protective order against an inquiry by his former marketing agent into whether he received illegal benefits to take his talents to the Duke Blue Devils, according to Daniel Wallach of The Athletic.
Williamson’s legal team called the requests from Gina Ford “invasive” and “irrelevant.”
Gina Ford filed a lawsuit against Williamson and his new agents, Creative Artists Agency (CAA), over the termination of her exclusive marketing agreement. It was a response that came eight days after Williamson had filed his own lawsuit in North Carolina federal court seeking to have that agreement declared invalid on the basis that it violated the North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act because Ford had not registered with the state as an “athlete-agent” during her dealings with Williamson and his family while he was still enrolled at Duke.
In a filing with Miami-Dade County court, Ford’s attorneys asked Williamson to admit that several statements were true, including:
• Sharonda Sampson, Williamson’s mother, and Lee Anderson, his stepfather, “demanded and received gifts and economic benefits from persons acting on behalf of Duke University (directly and/or indirectly) to influence [Williamson] to attend Duke University to play basketball.”
• Sampson and Anderson “demanded and received gifts, money and/or other benefits from persons on behalf of Nike (directly and/or indirectly) to influence [Williamson] to attend Duke University to play basketball.”
• 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 [Williamson] to wear Adidas shoes” and to “influence [Williamson] to attend a college that endorsed Adidas shoes.”
• Before becoming a student at Duke, Williamson “or person(s) acting on [his] behalf (including but not limited to Sharonda Sampson and Lee Anderson) accepted benefits from a NCAA-certified agent that are not expressly permitted by the NCAA legislation” between Jan. 1, 2014, and April 14, 2019.
By requesting Williamson admit his family members received illegal benefits while he was an amateur, Ford is likely contending that Williamson was well aware his days as an amateur were over.
The lawsuit against Williamson is seeking $100 million.