The Duke Blue Devils have a serious problem on their hands after attorneys representing Zion Williamson’s former marketing representative formally asked him to admit that his mom and stepfather demanded and received gifts, money and other benefits from persons acting on behalf of Adidas and Nike.
They also alleged people associated with Duke influenced him to sign with the Blue Devils and to wear Nike or Adidas products. Back in June 2019, Williamson sued Gina Ford and Prime Sports in an attempt to terminate his marketing agreement with her company. Ford and Prime Sports fired back the same month and alleged that he breached their five-year contract. The lawsuit seeks $100 million in punitive damages.
In a filing with Miami-Dade County court last week, 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.
Requests for admissions are a discovery tool in civil cases that allow one party to request that an adversary admit or deny the truth of a statement under oath.