Did Zion Williamson get paid to go to Duke? He’ll have to testify under oath

Zion Williamson and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

If Zion Williamson did get improper benefits at Duke, who cares?

Former Duke basketball and current New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson will need to testify under oath whether he received improper benefits while in college.

Williamson is being sued by Gina Ford and Prime Sports Marketing for $100 million for a breach of their marketing agreement.

In other words, Ford and Prime Sports Marketing are scorned they will not get to reap the benefits of being in business with Williamson, one of the most marketable professional athletes in the world.

Williamson’s attorneys are reportedly expected to appeal with the argument that precedence has already been met involving the same parties in a federal case in North Carolina. They also maintain the marketing agreement was severed with Ford because she wasn’t a registered agent in North Carolina.

Ford wants Williamson to admit his mother and stepfather received gifts, money and benefits from people acting on behalf of Adidas and Nike as well as people connected with Duke who wanted to influence him to sign with the Blue Devils so he can wear Nike or Adidas.

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“That issue is a complete canard and a complete red herring,” Williamson’s attorney, Jeffrey Klein, told Florida 11th Circuit Court Judge David Miller during a virtual hearing on Tuesday morning.” [W]e believe that as a matter of law the statute bars that contract. The issue with respect to amateur status, there’s no issue with respect to his amateur status, and in fact, if they wanted to find out the issue with respect to amateur status, eligibility is a determination made by the NCAA and made by Duke. I don’t think it’s relevant here to what’s transpiring because frankly those determinations have been made. … It doesn’t absolve their failure to comply with the North Carolina statute.”

Ford and her attorneys contend they are trying to protect student-athletes from predatory agents. So I guess their way of protecting student-athletes is to come for their money when the money faucet gets turned off.

In addition to the $100 million, it appears the end game is to have the NCAA retroactively rule Williamson ineligible, which means absolutely nothing.

In fact, all of this is a great big nothing.

Do you care if Williamson or any other student-athlete received money to play a college sport?

I don’t. In fact, I kinda have a little bit of respect for these athletes using their power to get a little compensation for all the money they’ll deliver to their university, head coach and all the positive goodwill and PR for the program and the rest of the university.

Why should Mike Krzyzewski be paid for Williamson being the Player of the Year and leading Duke to the Elite 8 and he gets to wear shoes that’ll end up blowing up on him?

NCAA sports are changing and student-athletes will soon be allowed to cash in on their name, image and likeness and the archaic amateur athlete model will be a thing of the past. If you want your labor force to be unpaid, you’re going to be left in the dust and on the wrong side of history.

If you love college sports because athletes are playing for the “love of the game” you are completely out of touch with reality. Or are you the rare exception who shows up to their job willing to work 40 hours each week for the love of accounting or construction or retail.

The only people who likely care whether Zion took improper benefits are North Carolina basketball fans and the rest of the NCAA basketball community who hates anything associated with Duke. I understand that I’d be trying to take down a former Duke player too after the season I just witnessed from the Tar Heels if I was a fan.

Nothing is going to happen though.

What do you want? Coach K to be suspended? Fired? Banned from the Hall of Fame?

Your mind is already made up. If you think Coach K is cheating to get recruits, look around the rest of college basketball and college football. If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’ is the old saying in sports.

As much as we’d like to think our favorite program is clean, most everyone is bending the rules and having relationships with unsavory characters in order to get the recruits they need in order to satiate the expectations of never satisfies fans and to keep earning their millions funneling in every year.

You can take down the Fab Five banners at Michigan and pretend Chris Webber didn’t exist.

You can force Reggie Bush to forfeit his Heisman Trophy and pretend he didn’t embarrass dudes at USC.

You can pretend all you want that college athletics are as pure as the driven snow, but it’s not, and it doesn’t even really matter.

Regardless of this outcome of Zion’s court case, nothing is going to happen to Duke or to him.

Who cares if he took money to play basketball? That’s what he’s supposed to do.

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