Zion Williamson Calls Gina Ford's Duke Ineligibility Claims 'Baseless' in Filing

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2020

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) reacts after a basket in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Sunday, March 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Rusty Costanza)
Rusty Costanza/Associated Press

As part of his ongoing legal battle, New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson said any allegations he accepted money to play for Duke are "baseless" and "irrelevant," according to The Athletic's Daniel Wallach.

Williamson filed suit in June 2019, aiming to void a contract he signed with Prime Sports Marketing. Prime Sports President Gina Ford filed a countersuit, alleging he breached the contract when he agreed to a deal with Creative Arts Agency.

As part of her case, Ford alleged Williamson received impermissible benefits while at Duke, which would've ruled him ineligible.

Were Williamson to admit under oath that he received money or illicit perks to attend Duke, he'd likely face little practical consequences since his college career is already over. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, would potentially come under the NCAA's microscope, much like the various programs tied to the FBI's corruption investigation.

The 2020 No. 1 overall pick received a stay from a Florida appeals court earlier this month that allowed him to delay answering any questions on the matter.

Ford and Prime Sports are seeking $100 million in punitive damages from their countersuit, a figure that speaks to Williamson's possible earning power away from the court.

The 19-year-old almost immediately became the most famous college basketball player in the country upon suiting up for Duke, and he has parlayed that into commercial success as a pro.

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Before appearing in an NBA game, he lined up endorsement deals with Mountain Dew, 2K Sports and Gatorade. He also ended a frenzied bidding war when he signed with Jordan Brand. Although the terms of the contract are unknown, ESPN's Nick DePaula reported some companies had offered him more than $10 million per year.

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