Duke 'Looking Into' Michael Avenatti's Claim Nike Paid Zion Williamson's Mother

Duke 'Looking Into' Michael Avenatti's Claim Nike Paid Zion Williamson's Mother

The Zion Williamson era is over at Duke but the ramifications of his time in Durham could be felt for a long time if Michael Avenatti's claims are true.

Duke University is "looking into" lawyer Michael Avenatti's claim that Nike paid Zion Williamson's mother to ensure her son chose to play college basketball for the Blue Devils.

According to ESPN, Duke athletic director Kevin White said the school is "looking into" the claim.

Williamson committed to Duke in January 2018 and finished his freshman season as the Associated Press and U.S. Basketball Writers college basketball player of the year. Avenatti has yet to provide visual proof of any payments to persons connected to Williamson.

"We demanded a settlement on behalf of our client, and we demanded that Nike come clean about this, in connection with an internal investigation that Nike was going to have to incur or undergo in any event", Avenatti responded.

Nike said it "will not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion and aid in his disgraceful attempts to distract from the athletes on the court at the height of the [NCAA] tournament". Code ran Nike's grassroots basketball program prior to leaving to work for Adidas. Included are bank statements, text messages and fake invoices disguised as business expenses.

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Avenatti was arrested in March and charged with trying to extort $20 million from Nike on threat that he would release some damaging information about the company.

Avenatti also made allegations claiming Zion Williamson's mother, Sharonda Sampson, received payments from Nike during her son's recruitment when he was attending high school in SC.

"Avenatti used illegal and extortionate threats for the goal of obtaining millions of dollars in payments from a public company", Geoffrey S. Berman, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, told the New York Times.

Melvin McDonald, who is described as Ayton's handler, allegedly received money. There also were two estimated payments of $5,000 to cover travel expenses by Ayton's family.

Nike has sponsored Duke since 1992 and recently signed an extension through 2027.

He's going to declare for the NBA Draft, so his college eligibility isn't in jeopardy, and there's no law against his mom getting paid by Nike, so she's not going to jail. "Nike bribed over 100 players as part of their scheme and purposely hid the payments from the NCAA & fed investigator". "Still waiting for Nike to deny they paid bribes and lied to the government for years about it. They know they did it and are guilty as hell", Avenatti added.

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