DUKE University is launching a probe into allegations Nike paid Zion Williamson’s mother during the recruitment period.
Controversial lawyer Michael Avenatti made an allegation on social media on Friday that Williamson’s mother Shonda accepted money and Duke said it is looking into it.
Avenatti also said “Carlton DeBose, a Nike executive, has bribed over 100 high school players over the last 4 years to play college basketball at colleges affiliated with Nike as opposed to other schools. He has used bogus invoices and countless coaches to further the scheme & deliver the $...”
“About this denial by Coach K the other day relating to payments by Nike...Can you please ask Zion Williamson’s mother - Sharonda Sampson - whether she was paid by @nike for bogus ‘consulting services’ in 2016/17 as part of a Nike bribe to get Zion to go to Duke? Thx,” Avenatti tweeted to Duke Basketball.
Avenatti was charged last month with attempted extortion from Nike and is out on bail.
Duke director of athletics Kevin White said on Saturday (Sunday, Manila time) the university is making its investigaton.
“We are aware of the allegation and, as we would with any compliance matter, are looking into it," White said in a statement to media outlets in the US.
"Duke is fully committed to compliance with all NCAA rules and regulations. Every student athlete at Duke is reviewed to ensure their eligibility. With regard to men’s basketball: all recruits and their families are thoroughly vetted by Duke in collaboration with the NCAA through the Eligibility Center’s amateurism certification process.”
Williamson was named AP men’s basketball player of the year and is the projected No. 1 pick for the next NBA draft.
An injury sustained in February after his Nike shoe fell apart during a game kept Williamson sidelined for a month. He managed to lead Duke to the Elite Eight where the Blue Devils fell to Michigan State.