Nike has been accused of allegedly discussing a $35,000 payment to Zion Williamson while the former five-star prospect was coming out of high school.
A motion filed on behalf of attorney Michael Avenatti alleges “corruption” and “under-the-table payouts” to high school players in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball (EYBL) division, according to Yahoo! Sports.
Avenatti has been charged with extortion, though he maintains a willingness to “expose” Nike for alleged wrongdoing.
The documents filed in court allege that Nike discussed payments for Williamson, who attended Duke, and Romeo Langford, who attended Indiana. Both spent one season at their respective schools and are now in the NBA.
It’s unclear if Nike ended up paying those players or even presented them with offers, per Yahoo! Sports.
The motion reportedly includes the following allegations, per Yahoo! Sports:
Nike EYBL manager Jamal James texted EYBL Director Carlton DeBose and Nike Recruiting Coordinator John Stovall “in February 2017, asking whether they would be ‘willing to do … whatever may be needed for the Zion/Romeo situations as well as the money we’re now going to do for the [redacted due to the player being a minor] kid in Michigan?’”
Stovall, according to the motion, responded:
Langford — 20
Zion — 35 plus
— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) August 15, 2019
At this point, it’s unclear what – if anything – will come of this. Adidas was accused of similar wrongdoing and their case ended up going to court, with a couple of assistant coaches and former executives losing their jobs.
You can read Yahoo! Sports’ full report, which includes the entire motion filed in court, here.