ESPN: Zion Williamson's stepfather took $400K payment, court filing alleges

BleedGopher

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per ESPN:


Zion Williamson's stepfather solicited and accepted a $400,000 payment from a marketing agent in October 2018 prior to Williamson's only season with the Duke Blue Devils, according to a court motion and sworn affidavit filed by his former marketing representative's attorneys in federal court on Thursday.

Gina Ford's attorneys say the affidavit and other exhibits show that Williamson was ineligible when he played for the Blue Devils in 2018-19 because his stepfather, Lee Anderson, received impermissible benefits from Slavko Duric, a Canadian marketing agent.

"[We] obtained newly discovered evidence impacting the issue of whether Zion Williamson was a 'student-athlete' that we believe makes it transparently clear, verifiable and indisputable that he was not a 'student-athlete' long before there was any communication or contact between Zion Williamson, and/or any third party acting on his behalf, and our clients," Ford's attorney, Alvin Pittman, wrote in a letter to Williamson's attorney on Monday.

"The alleged 'agreements' and driver's license attached to these papers are fraudulent, and neither Mr. Williamson nor his family know these individuals nor had any dealings with them," Williamson's attorney, Jeffrey Klein, said in a statement to ESPN. "We had previously alerted Ms. Ford's lawyers to both this fact and that we had previously reported the documents to law enforcement as forgeries, but they chose to go ahead with another frivolous filing anyway. This is a desperate and irresponsible attempt to smear Mr. Williamson at the very time he has the opportunity to live his dream of playing professional basketball."


Go Gophers!!
 

builtbadgers

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per ESPN:


Zion Williamson's stepfather solicited and accepted a $400,000 payment from a marketing agent in October 2018 prior to Williamson's only season with the Duke Blue Devils, according to a court motion and sworn affidavit filed by his former marketing representative's attorneys in federal court on Thursday.

Gina Ford's attorneys say the affidavit and other exhibits show that Williamson was ineligible when he played for the Blue Devils in 2018-19 because his stepfather, Lee Anderson, received impermissible benefits from Slavko Duric, a Canadian marketing agent.

"[We] obtained newly discovered evidence impacting the issue of whether Zion Williamson was a 'student-athlete' that we believe makes it transparently clear, verifiable and indisputable that he was not a 'student-athlete' long before there was any communication or contact between Zion Williamson, and/or any third party acting on his behalf, and our clients," Ford's attorney, Alvin Pittman, wrote in a letter to Williamson's attorney on Monday.

"The alleged 'agreements' and driver's license attached to these papers are fraudulent, and neither Mr. Williamson nor his family know these individuals nor had any dealings with them," Williamson's attorney, Jeffrey Klein, said in a statement to ESPN. "We had previously alerted Ms. Ford's lawyers to both this fact and that we had previously reported the documents to law enforcement as forgeries, but they chose to go ahead with another frivolous filing anyway. This is a desperate and irresponsible attempt to smear Mr. Williamson at the very time he has the opportunity to live his dream of playing professional basketball."


Go Gophers!!
If proven, they deserve the treatment USC got on the Reggie Bush deal.
 

60's Guy

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If Slavko gave them cash ... seems proof is more troublesome....crying fraud is convenient. If there is a bank check that corresponds to the documents it seems troublesome to Zion’s camp.
Stephen A Smith said Zion’s attorneys are world class elite. He knows their work from personal business negotiations.
If it truly never happened and Gina Ford is making the whole thing up that’s too sick.
 

Gopherbbdude

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Does it really matter to Duke...no.

they will find a way to duck and dodge it
 

MplsGopher

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How do you "prove" that Duke did something wrong? In other words, how do you disprove that Duke had nothing to do with the payment and would have had no way of knowing about it, and hence would never have had a chance to declare Zion ineligible for the team?

Just asking the questions. Not rooting for Duke to get away.
 

builtbadgers

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How do you "prove" that Duke did something wrong? In other words, how do you disprove that Duke had nothing to do with the payment and would have had no way of knowing about it, and hence would never have had a chance to declare Zion ineligible for the team?

Just asking the questions. Not rooting for Duke to get away.
Great question. Duke would likely need to be like USC was in wanting to conduct a real internal investigation to find out what was really going on. That is unlikely, partly because USC did find out and when they cooperated they get hit with a penalty so far over the top that it crippled the program for several years.
 

MplsGopher

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So all that has to happen, is that there is no proof of any investigation done by Duke, and then Duke claims that they never had a reason to conduct such an investigation because they never knew about any such payments.

"Don't know anything about that, don't want to know anything about that."


Seems like the perfect ruse for schools. So long as there is an autonomous group of well-heeled boosters, willing to give money to recruits just for the informal promise to play for the school .... the school can simply deny they knew it was happening.

In fact, we know this happens at least for SEC football. There was a great article on the reporter following around, anonymously, a booster for an SEC school, how the network operated autonomously, what the requirements were to be a member, how you would use burner phones, only in-person meetings, only cash, etc. Legally untraceable.

And people were willing to serve this roll, for nothing more than an occasional glad-hand and eye wink from the head coach and AD higher ups. "Hey coach, this is a friend of the program."
 

short ornery norwegian

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I may be in the minority, but I wish they would just drop the whole "student-athlete" fantasy.

In my perfect world, D1 FB and Men's Basketball players are employees of the school - no more and no less. if a player actually wants to enroll as a student, that is their choice, but otherwise, they are a contracted employee of the school. Pay them a salary equivalent to the cost of a full-ride scholarship. if players want to make side deals with shoe companies or get in on the NIL deal, that's up to them.

redefine the entire relationship between schools and athletes. get all the under-the-table BS out in the open.

if schools did not want to compete on that level, then have a level equivalent to 1-AA where schools agree to compete under the traditional NCAA rules, with separate tournaments, etc.
 

Gopher Teeth

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I may be in the minority, but I wish they would just drop the whole "student-athlete" fantasy.

In my perfect world, D1 FB and Men's Basketball players are employees of the school - no more and no less. if a player actually wants to enroll as a student, that is their choice, but otherwise, they are a contracted employee of the school. Pay them a salary equivalent to the cost of a full-ride scholarship. if players want to make side deals with shoe companies or get in on the NIL deal, that's up to them.

redefine the entire relationship between schools and athletes. get all the under-the-table BS out in the open.

if schools did not want to compete on that level, then have a level equivalent to 1-AA where schools agree to compete under the traditional NCAA rules, with separate tournaments, etc.
Interesting to think about. How many teams would actually be in the "salary" league? Considering there would be some schools that would be able to vastly "outspend" others that it would become extremely unbalanced, maybe forcing some additional schools who may have originally joined "salary" league to vacate leaving maybe less than 20. Would it then damage the appeal of college sports, because most schools would not be at the highest level?
 
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MplsGopher

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Posters often say that paying college players a salary is a line in the sand you do not cross.

I've rejected that and been dismissive of it. I think college students on the teams that were paid a salary to be on the teams, people would still watch that. Personally, I wouldn't think of them any differently than full time students who also work for the school, doing landscaping, being parking attendants, serving food in cafeteria, etc.


However, I would be much less certain if the players weren't even students at the school. And especially if they weren't even college aged. It might be one thing to say you're eligible from ages 18-23 or something like that. But to have a 35 year old man with a wife and kids, who never went to the school, playing on the university team? I'm not sure people could wrap their heads around that.


Or maybe people just wouldn't care, so long as the team that had their school's name on the uniform, was winning?
 

builtbadgers

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I may be in the minority, but I wish they would just drop the whole "student-athlete" fantasy.

In my perfect world, D1 FB and Men's Basketball players are employees of the school - no more and no less. if a player actually wants to enroll as a student, that is their choice, but otherwise, they are a contracted employee of the school. Pay them a salary equivalent to the cost of a full-ride scholarship. if players want to make side deals with shoe companies or get in on the NIL deal, that's up to them.

redefine the entire relationship between schools and athletes. get all the under-the-table BS out in the open.

if schools did not want to compete on that level, then have a level equivalent to 1-AA where schools agree to compete under the traditional NCAA rules, with separate tournaments, etc.
Good luck.
 

GopherBlood666

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I don't care that Zion (or I guess his dad) got paid. I just want Duke to get dragged through the mud.
Right lol. The jump in housing expense that williamson family had once moved closer to duke was an obvious red flag. Rent increased by 5x or more and somehow magically could afford. Now way K and staff did not know as I would assume they have people to investigate these kind of things.
 

BarnBurner

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Right lol. The jump in housing expense that williamson family had once moved closer to duke was an obvious red flag. Rent increased by 5x or more and somehow magically could afford. Now way K and staff did not know as I would assume they have people to investigate these kind of things.
St K?
Nah, he was busy making commercials.
 

gophereric30

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So all that has to happen, is that there is no proof of any investigation done by Duke, and then Duke claims that they never had a reason to conduct such an investigation because they never knew about any such payments.

"Don't know anything about that, don't want to know anything about that."


Seems like the perfect ruse for schools. So long as there is an autonomous group of well-heeled boosters, willing to give money to recruits just for the informal promise to play for the school .... the school can simply deny they knew it was happening.

In fact, we know this happens at least for SEC football. There was a great article on the reporter following around, anonymously, a booster for an SEC school, how the network operated autonomously, what the requirements were to be a member, how you would use burner phones, only in-person meetings, only cash, etc. Legally untraceable.

And people were willing to serve this roll, for nothing more than an occasional glad-hand and eye wink from the head coach and AD higher ups. "Hey coach, this is a friend of the program."
Right! Good point. Why dont we cheat again? No reason not to lol
 

goldenboy

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Schools have been penalized in the past for illegal booster behavior, despite the institution’s claim of being unaware of it.
 

MplsGopher

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Schools have been penalized in the past for illegal booster behavior, despite the institution’s claim of being unaware of it.
How? How can you prove it?

As a layperson, I would think there has to be an email, text message, voice recording, something physical that proves the school/team knew it was happening.
 

TurfGopher

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Its crazy to think the teams at the top of the totem pole with all the blue blood advantages still rely on cheating to land top recruits. Maybe the pandemic will destroy college athletic departments and the whole system will have to be rebuilt from the ground up as a university adjacent, privately run business.
 

jovs

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Getting more creative to hide the cheating, so the agent got conned, how does that explain the fancy house Williamsons family was living in.
 

60's Guy

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Getting more creative to hide the cheating, so the agent got conned, how does that explain the fancy house Williamsons family was living in.
Being conned is entirely possible. Getting paid a handsome sum to say you were conned is also possible.
Like Jovs said, the house and the rest of the benefits is still is reality. Bottom line: with your money hire the best attorneys. ( So far, anyway, it seems to be working for Zion.)
 

MplsGopher

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Being conned is entirely possible. Getting paid a handsome sum to say you were conned is also possible.
Like Jovs said, the house and the rest of the benefits is still is reality. Bottom line: with your money hire the best attorneys. ( So far, anyway, it seems to be working for Zion.)
Zion doesn’t need an attorney, because he hasn’t broken any laws.

It most certainly is not illegal to accept money to play basketball.

The NCAA not liking something, has nothing to do with the law.
 

GopherBlood666

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Zion doesn’t need an attorney, because he hasn’t broken any laws.

It most certainly is not illegal to accept money to play basketball.

The NCAA not liking something, has nothing to do with the law.
You are absolutely correct, if anyone should be providing attorneys it's Duke. The only thing really on the line is Duke's record from last year and whether it gets vacated or not.
 

bc2211

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Zion doesn’t need an attorney, because he hasn’t broken any laws.

It most certainly is not illegal to accept money to play basketball.

The NCAA not liking something, has nothing to do with the law.
Not a lawyer, but what about fraud? If Duke or associates pay him in order to monetarily exploit a competitive market with membership rules.... that sounds illegal to me, and Zion would be a coconspirator.
 

MplsGopher

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Not a lawyer, but what about fraud? If Duke or associates pay him in order to monetarily exploit a competitive market with membership rules.... that sounds illegal to me, and Zion would be a coconspirator.
I guess you got me there!

Would need someone who isn’t a layperson, as myself, to understand if laws covering fraud could be extended to such a case.

Though, wouldn’t it need to cause some kind of financial harm? Who got harmed? Duke doesn’t seem to have suffered any financial harm, from having Zion play?

Say they did end up suffering vacated wins. Can it be argued that will actually cause financial harm? And if so, who truly is at fault?

Very hard questions to answer I’m sure.
 
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