RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Zion Williamson’s stepfather accepted $400,000 from a sports marketing agent before the 2019 national college player of the year attended Duke, according to a sworn affidavit from a former sports marketer filed Thursday.
CBS 17 News obtained the 42-page document filed in U.S. District Court in Greensboro as part of the ongoing lawsuit between Williamson and his former sports marketing agency, Prime Sports Marketing, and its president, Gina Ford.
Donald Kreiss, a California entrepreneur, said under oath that Canada-based sports marketer Slavko Duric told him he wired $400,000 to a bank account in South Carolina for Williamson’s stepfather Lee Anderson and Anderson’s friend and former college teammate James “Chubby” Wells.
In return, Kreiss said, Duric told him Anderson had given him a verbal promise that his firm, Maximum Management Group, would have exclusive marketing rights once he left Duke for the NBA.
If true, that could violate the NCAA’s rules about amateurism and jeopardize Williamson’s eligibility during his lone college season in 2018-19.
Kreiss said he provided $35,000 to Duric, who said the payment was “depleting his financial resources” and reached out for “money and professional marketing help.” He said he expected to own 22.5 percent of the revenues Maximum Management would make from marketing Williamson.
Kreiss said Duric received a signed marketing contract between Maximum Management and Williamson in May 2019, with a copy of that agreement included in the recent court filing.
Kreiss said he was unaware that Williamson had also signed an agreement with Ford and Prime Sports until he read news reports of the lawsuit between Williamson and that agency.
Kreiss also said Anderson and Williamson promised Duric that in exchange for terminating the agreement with Maximum Management, they would repay $500,000 and then pay Duric and the agency between $7 million and $10 million.
Jeffrey Klein, one of the attorneys who represents Williamson, said in a statement to CBS 17 News that the agreements — along with an alleged copy of Williamson’s South Carolina driver’s license also included in the filing — were “fraudulent” and had reported them to Ford’s attorneys as forgeries, and that neither the player nor his family had “any dealings with them.”
The copy of the license appears to have Williamson’s height and weight juxtaposed — with “6’06” listed as his weight and “284” as his height.
“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,” Klein said.
Anderson and Wells played together at Clemson in the 1970s. Kreiss said in the filing that Anderson met Duric while he played basketball in Europe and reconnected during Williamson’s rise to fame.
Williamson and Ford have been tied up in competing lawsuits over the past year, with a $100 million breach of contract lawsuit by Ford and Prime Sports coming shortly before the New Orleans Pelicans picked Williamson No. 1 overall in the 2019 NBA draft and after he sued in federal court in North Carolina to get out of the contract he signed upon leaving Duke, saying Ford violated the state’s sports agent law because neither she nor the firm were registered in North Carolina.
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 say if Williamson is determined to have been ineligible, the act would not apply to him.
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