Agent Gina Ford: Zion Williamson Got Illegal Benefits from Duke, Nike, Adidas

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2020

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson walks onto the court during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat in New Orleans, Friday, March 6, 2020. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

The former marketing agent of New Orleans Pelicans star rookie Zion WilliamsonGina Ford, has filed documents in court claiming Williamson received impermissible benefits from several sources, including Nike and Adidas. 

Gaming law attorney Daniel Wallach shared her requests for admission: 

Daniel Wallach @WALLACHLEGAL

NEW: Zion Williamson’s former marketing agent has served requests for admission in their lawsuit asking him to admit that he received “money, benefits, favors or other things of value” to attend Duke University and to wear and/or use Nike and Adidas. Wow. That escalated quickly. https://t.co/59gWX5bNKX

Williamson, 19, is suing Ford's Prime Sports Marketing after he tried to sever his five-year contract with the agency last year. Per Garrett Stepien of 247Sports, the agency had threatened to sue Williamson for $100 million in damages if he broke off the arrangement.

Williamson did just that, signing with CAA Sports in May 2019.

Williamson's suit against Prime Sports Marketing claims his agreement with the agency—which "essentially amounts to a non-terminable, exclusive agency to represent Williamson in all of his marketing and endorsement endeavors," per Wallach—violated the Uniform Athlete Agents Act because "neither Ford nor anyone associated with Prime Sports is registered as an athlete-agent in North Carolina; and the agreement does not include the specific language required by the UAAA."

Prime Sports Marketing countered with a lawsuit of its own in Florida and a countersuit in North Carolina.

The question regarding the agency's requests for admission is whether it is anything more than a legal maneuver to persuade Williamson to settle.

Daniel Wallach @WALLACHLEGAL

Of course, she could just as easily have filed this in the North Carolina federal court action - and that’s definitely coming up soon - where it might have received a bit more attention than burying it in a Miami-Dade Circuit Court docket, where it sat unnoticed for four days.

Among those requests is that Williamson admit he knew his mother, Sharonda Sampson, and stepfather, Lee Anderson, "demanded and received gifts, money and/or other benefits" from Duke and Nike to sign with the Blue Devils and with Adidas to endorse and wear its shoes.

Prime Sports also requested that Williamson admit he received "gifts, money and/or other benefits from persons other [than] NCAA certified agents" between 2014 and 2019 and impermissible benefits from an NCAA-certified agent during that time.