Attorneys want to ask about finances, housing during Zion Williamson’s time at Duke

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Injured New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, left, and guard Jrue Holiday watch from the bench during the second half of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2019, in Denver. The Pelicans won 112-100. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Lawyers for Zion Williamson’s former marketing agent are asking a North Carolina judge for permission to ask questions under oath about the finances and housing of the NBA rookie’s parents during his lone season at Duke.

CBS 17 News on Wednesday obtained a 30-page document filed this week in U.S. District Court in Greensboro by attorneys for Gina Ford and Prime Sports Marketing, asking the judge to deny a motion by Williamson’s attorneys for partial judgment.

Jeffrey S. Klein, who represents Williamson, did not immediately return a message from CBS 17 News seeking comment. Officials at Duke have consistently declined comment throughout the legal wrangling because the school is not party to either lawsuit, pointing to a statement from January in which they said their “thorough and objective investigation” into Williamson’s eligibility “found no evidence to support any allegation.”

Williamson and both Ford and Prime Sports have sued each other during the past year, with Williamson suing in North Carolina to break the contract he signed last spring, saying the agency violated the state’s sports agent law. Ford and Prime Sports then filed a breach of contract lawsuit in Florida seeking $100 million in damages.

Williamson’s college eligibility could be pivotal because the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Agents Act defines a student-athlete as someone who is eligible to engage in an intercollegiate sport. The lawyers for Ford and Prime Sports could argue that if Williamson is determined to have been ineligible, the act would not apply to him.

Lawyers for the agency — who have hinted that they could ask Hall of Fame Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski to sit for a deposition — were more explicit in the document filed Tuesday, saying “testimony from Coach K is warranted” in determining Williamson’s eligibility.

The court filing — which does not provide any evidence — also alleges that Williamson’s family moved into a property valued at $950,000 with a monthly rent of $4,995 after he decided to play for Duke and move to North Carolina. It also claims his home in South Carolina was valued at $153,000 with a monthly rent of $895.

The filing also cites Department of Motor Vehicles records that indicate two cars — a 2018 Mercedes Benz G Wagon and a 2016 GMC Yukon — were registered to Williamson’s stepfather and a 2015 Cadillac Escalade was registered to his mother. The attorneys say discovery is warranted to determine whether the acquisition of those vehicles affected Williamson’s eligibility.

Lawyers for Ford and her agency wanted to ask Williamson under oath about any improper benefits before or during his time at Duke. An appeals court in Florida issued a temporary stay sought by Williamson’s attorneys that blocked that request.

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