Duke 'looking into' Michael Avenatti's allegation that Nike paid Zion Williamson

May JohnsonApr 09, 2019

Avenatti, who was arrested last month for allegedly trying to extort more than $20 million from the sportswear company by threatening to release damaging information, also linked payments to associates of former Arizona star Deandre Ayton - who is now with the Phoenix Suns - Oregon's Bol Bol and former UNLV player Brandon McCoy in the shared documents.

Avenatti's claim is that Nike paid Williamson's mother as a bribe in order to steer him to attending Duke, which has a sponsorship deal with Nike.

During an October federal criminal trial in NY, in which three men were convicted for their roles in pay-for-play schemes to send high-profile recruits to Adidas-sponsored schools, one of the defendant's attorney attempted to introduce wiretap recordings, in which former Adidas consultant Merl Code and Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend discussed what it would take for Williamson to sign with the Jayhawks.

In a series of tweets, Avenatti claims Nike has a lot to hide regarding payments for college basketball recruits and steering them to attend Nike schools. "They know they did it and are guilty as hell", Avenatti added.

'Nike will continue its cooperation with the government's investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case, ' the statement continued.

Kevin White, Duke's A.D., said he was aware of bribery allegation surrounding Nike and Zion Williamson's mother.

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Nike says they will not respond to Avenatti's claims.

A 6-foot-7 forward from Spartanburg, S.C., Williamson just completed what will be his only season at Duke by being named a consensus all-American.

Avenatti also reinforced his accusations against Nike Director of Elite Youth Basketball Carlton DeBose, who he says was involved in the payouts.

There are invoices, bank statements, wire transfers and text exchanges that appear to detail cash drops or checks to non-profit organizations. "Every student athlete at Duke is reviewed to ensure their eligibility". "In men's basketball, for the past several summers, Duke compliance officials, top recruits and their families have engaged in and cooperated fully with the NCAA Eligibility Center's enhanced amateurism certification process". He is expected to enter the NBA Draft and is projected to be chosen No. 1 overall.

NBA Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson was eyeball to shoulder alongside larger-than-life freshman Zion Williamson on Friday night, posing for photographers as he handed off the national player of the year award that bears his name and likeness, when he offered a warning for the basketball world.

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