Zion Williamson’s lawsuit against Prime Sports Marketing, a company he signed with after his Duke career, hit a snag today. The New Orleans Pelicans superstar’s lawyers had requested a stay on discovery in the case, a request that was denied by the judge assigned to the case.
Williamson, the biggest player in college basketball during the 2018-19 season, signed with Prime Sports Marketing and agent Gina Ford after his one season at Duke. The deal was set to run for five years. Instead, the young hoops star backed away, citing that the company did not offer protections under North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agent Act (UAAA).
Williamson went on to sign with CAA, suing Prime Sports to end his agreement early. His legal team believes that the Prime Sports deal should be void as Ford did not register with the North Carolina Secretary of State’s Office prior to negotiating with him. The marketing company countersued him, seeking at least $100 million in damages.
On Tuesday, Florida 11th Circuit Court Judge David Miller ruled against the Zion Williamson legal team’s request. That opens him up to potential interrogation under oath. Ford’s legal team alleges that Williamson received payment and other impermissible benefits to go to Duke and sign with Nike, which would mean he was not in fact an amateur athlete.
News: A Florida judge has ruled that attorneys for Gina Ford are allowed to continue with discovery regarding Zion Williamson’s eligibility in a lawsuit with former agent. More coming. Here’s the backstory: https://t.co/ll2DvZnSrv
— Dana O’Neil (@DanaONeilWriter) June 2, 2020
There’s a fair chance that this lawsuit gets settled before anything explosive happens, but if it plays out, it could have some very interesting ramifications. If Zion Williamson is forced to take the stand, and acknowledges that he received the alleged payments to attend Duke, that will open up a huge pandora’s box with the NCAA.
The lawsuit first started last June, with proceedings going on over the last year. After his single season at Duke, during which he was Naismith Player of the Year and an All-American, Williamson was taken No. 1 overall by the Pelicans.
After rehab from injury, and before the ongoing NBA shutdown, he played in 19 games, averaging 23.6 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in under 30 minutes per contest.