Zion Williamson's former marketing agency is alleging that the family of the former Duke star and current New Orleans Pelicans rookie took money to steer Williamson to Duke and certain shoe companies, according to court documents publicized Sunday. The allegations amount to a surprising twist in a saga of dueling lawsuits that could have implications for Duke if the allegations from Prime Sports Marketing are deemed credible enough to investigate by the NCAA.
The documents, which were shared on Twitter by The Athletic legal analyst Daniel Wallach, are from civil court in Miami-Dade County, and are part of a civil lawsuit against Williamson and his current agents filed by Prime Sports Marketing, LLC.
A five-page request for admissions filed by the plaintiffs asks Williamson to admit that his mother and stepfather "demanded and received gifts, money and/or other benefits from persons acting on behalf of Duke University (directly and/or indirectly) to influence you to attend Duke University to play basketball."
Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said in a September statement to the Durham Herald-Sun that an outside investigation was conducted once the school was alerted to potential eligibility issues with Williamson.
"As soon as Duke was made aware of any allegation that might have affected Zion Williamson's eligibility, we conducted a thorough and objective investigation which was directed by individuals outside the athletics department," Schoenfeld wrote. "We found no evidence to support any allegation. Zion thrived as both a student and an athlete at Duke, and always conducted himself with integrity and purpose."
The court document publicized Sunday also alleges that Williamson's parents accepted benefits from representatives of Nike and Adidas to influence Williamson to wear their apparel and attend a school affiliated with their brands.
Prime Sports Marketing initially signed Williamson as a client after his freshman season at Duke. But just over a month later, he signed with another agency, prompting Prime Sports Marketing to pursue legal action for the enforcement of their contract with Williamson. Williamson, however, filed a federal lawsuit alleging the initial contract with Prime Sports Marketing is unenforceable.