Agent’s attorney hints at deposition for Coach K in Zion Williamson lawsuit

Duke

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — A lawyer for a sports marketing agent who is suing former Duke star Zion Williamson is hinting that he could seek a deposition from Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski.

In an interview with CBS 17 News on Tuesday, attorney Alvin Pittman — who is representing Prime Sports Marketing and its president, Gina Ford — was asked directly if he is prepared to depose Krzyzewski.

“We, as we said initially, intend to leave no stone unturned in our effort to find the facts, to get at the facts,” Pittman said. “We’re going to follow the evidence trail wherever it leads.”

Pittman and the other lawyers representing Ford and Prime Sports filed a first request for admissions in a Florida court last week. They want Williamson to answer whether he or people close to him received improper benefits.

Among other questions, it asks Williamson to answer whether he, or his mother or stepfather, demanded or received gifts, money or benefits to attend Duke — where he was selected as the national player of the year as a freshman in 2019 before he was picked No. 1 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans.

The documents do not contain any evidence.

CBS 17 News asked attorney Jeffrey Klein, who represents Williamson, for comment. A spokesman for Klein declined an interview request and referred to a statement issued by Duke University officials in January.

“As soon as Duke was made aware of any allegation that might have affected Zion Williamson’s eligibility, we conducted a thorough and objective investigation which was directed by individuals outside the athletics department,” Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld said. “We found no evidence to support any allegation. Zion thrived as both a student and an athlete at Duke, and always conducted himself with integrity and purpose.”

School officials declined further comment, saying Duke is not a party to the lawsuit. When asked Tuesday to respond to the suggestion that Krzyzewski could be deposed, Duke spokesman Jon Jackson said the school stands behind the statement from January.

Daniel Wallach, a sports attorney and legal analyst, told CBS 17 News that Williamson doesn’t have to answer those questions yet and said it’s unlikely that Krzyzewski would be deposed.

“It’s far more likely that Duke will be playing a basketball game before Mike Krzyzewski ever sits for a deposition in North Carolina,” Wallach said, “and he will never, ever sit for one in Florida because he’s beyond the subpoena power of the Florida courts.”

Williamson has been tied up in dueling lawsuits with Ford and her company for nearly an entire year, ever since shortly after he left Duke early for the NBA.

Williamson signed a marketing deal with Prime Sports last April, five days after announcing his decision to enter the NBA draft. 

He then signed with Creative Artists Agency last May and filed a lawsuit in June in U.S. District Court in Greensboro seeking to terminate that contract and accusing the agency of violating the state’s sports agent law, saying Ford is not registered as an agent in the state as required by law.

Later that month, Ford and Prime Sports sued Williamson in a Florida court for $100 million in punitive damages, saying the former college player of the year breached his contract.

Williamson’s college eligibility is key 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 be applicable to him.

The most recent court filing is part of that lawsuit.

“In litigation, we have an expression — when we’re seeking discovery, it’s called a fishing expedition, and this is what this is,” Wallach said. “They cast a very wide net over a panoply, wide panoply of different subjects that basically cover the field — over-cover the field — and this could very well be an example of that.”

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