With the 2019 NBA Draft less than three months away, scandal is the last thing Zion Willaimson needs.
But scandal is what he is getting, as a possible connection between Nike and Zion’s mother Sharonda Sampson. USA Today and US attorney Michael Avenatti, there might be evidence that Nike executive Carlton Debose bribed multiple basketball players — Williamson included — to attend and play for Nike-affiliated colleges and universities.
Duke University officials have begun “looking into” these rumors and the claims that, Sharonda, specifically, took bribes in exchange for her son choosing to play at Duke.
.@DukeMBB – 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.
— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 6, 2019
Michael Avenatti is a solid source, having his foot in politics and representing several prominent figures over the years. If what he says is true, it could have severe consequences for the university.
If Nike is using this tactic to get top prospects to their schools, it gives them an extremely unfair recruiting advantage.
Expect an ongoing investigation for the next few weeks as Duke and the NCAA work to try and figure out the depth of these claims.