Zion's lawyers: Eligibility claims based on Wikipedia, Zillow are 'baseless'
AP

Zion's lawyers: Eligibility claims based on Wikipedia, Zillow are 'baseless'

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Duke's Zion Williamson was named Oscar Robertson Player of the Year and AP Player of the Year on Friday, April 5, 2019, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Duke's Zion Williamson was named Oscar Robertson Player of the Year and AP Player of the Year on Friday, April 5, 2019, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Carlos Gonzalez/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)

RALEIGH, N.C. - NBA star Zion Williamson's attorneys on Monday called his former agent's allegations he violated NCAA rules at Duke "unsubstantiated conjecture" as they seek relief from a federal judge in their contract dispute.

In court documents filed in Greensboro at the U.S. District Court for North Carolina's Middle District and obtained by the News & Observer, Williamson's attorneys charge Gina Ford with "an effort to point the finger at Williamson and his family, levying a stream of offensive and baseless insinuations."

Williamson's attorneys are seeking a judgment in their favor in the civil case, which stems from the April 2019 agreement Williamson signed with Ford's agency, Florida-based Prime Sports Marketing, for marketing representation.

When Williamson decided to sign with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) the following month, Ford claimed he owed her $100 million for breaking their contract. Williamson sued in federal court seeking relief from that claim, saying since Ford was not registered as an agent in North Carolina, the contract was void under the state's Uniform Athlete-Agent Act.

Ford countersued in a Florida court and has levied allegations that Williamson and his family received improper benefits before and during his lone season at Duke. She says if he broke NCAA rules, the state's agent laws don't apply to him.

Ford admits she was not registered to work as an agent in North Carolina.

Ford's attorneys requested Williamson and his parents appear for a deposition to answer, under oath, her charges the family received cash, housing and cars that would have violated NCAA rules and rendered him ineligible. They've also indicated they'd like to depose Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski.

For evidence, Ford's attorneys have offered Zillow.com rental estimates of the houses where the Williamsons resided in South Carolina, when he attended high school at Spartanburg Day, and in North Carolina when he played for Duke. They claimed the owner of the house the family rented in Durham was a Duke graduate.

An examination of property tax records and Duke's alumni database by the News & Observer showed that not to be true. While the two men shared the same name, they are two different people.

"Rather than defend their conduct," the court filing stated, "defendants seek to shift the focus with salacious and false rumors from unreliable sources outside the pleadings. Defendants cite Wikipedia articles, Zillow estimates and hearsay ruled inadmissible by other federal judges. They even embrace rank speculation that Duke intentionally violated NCAA regulations by certifying Williamson's eligibility. Defendants allegations are baseless and, more importantly for purposes of this motion, irrelevant."

The 6-foot-7 Williamson played for Duke in the 2018-19 season, when he was named ACC player of the year and won various national player of the year awards while helping the Blue Devils to a 32-6 record and the ACC championship. New Orleans selected him with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft.

Visit The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) at www.newsobserver.com

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