Duke clears Zion Williamson after investigating allegations from Michael Avenatti that Nike paid him

A monthslong investigation by Duke University into whether Nike paid one-and-done sensation Zion Williamson to attend Nike-sponsored Duke has ended. The conclusion reported Friday by the News & Observer is that there was “no evidence” of such wrongdoing, and that Williamson’s eligibility was in no way compromised.

The investigation by the university was triggered earlier this year after Michael Avenatti, a lawyer who famously represented Stormy Daniels, alleged Nike arranged payments for Williamson along with other former top-rated recruits. Avenatti sent out a tweet in March vowing to expose Nike for nefariously wandering in the realm of recruiting related to the college basketball scandal. He was arrested by the federal government and charged with extortion against Nike an hour later.

In August as part of another turn to the story, Avenatti’s legal team filed a motion to have those same charges dismissed. In the motion he attached accusations against Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball division (EYBL). Here’s the gist of what that entailed, from earlier this summer:

Avenatti claims Nike was knowingly involved in nefarious behavior of illicit payments for parents and/or guardians of high school basketball players. The filing on behalf of Avenatti’s legal team, however, did not provide evidence of payments to any high school players or their families/representatives.

True to form, Avenatti when reached for comment by the News & Observer remained steadfast in his findings despite Duke’s conclusion. In a statement he not only doubled down, but loaded up a cannon of accusations against Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski and his program.

“I never heard from anyone associated with Duke in connection with my allegations or any investigation,” said Avenatti. “I was never asked a single question. I was never asked what information or documents that I was aware of. Who the hell conducted this investigation? Inspector Clouseau? The documents and the hard evidence do not lie. Zion Williamson was paid to attend Duke. Coach K has made and facilitated payments to players for years. And when the truth comes out — and eventually it will — Coach K and Duke’s reputation will be forever and rightfully tarnished.”

Williamson, the ACC Player of the Year last season, averaged 22.6 points per game and went on to become the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.

Duke clears Zion Williamson after investigating allegations from Michael Avenatti that Nike paid him

Stormy Daniels
Stormy Daniels Photo ( from Brazzers Network )

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