Former Duke star Zion Williamson, who is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the June 20 NBA draft, is suing to terminate his contract with a sports marketing company, saying the agency violated the state's sports agent law.
A lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Greensboro says the star player should be allowed to void his contract with Florida-based Prime Sports Marketing LLC.
Prime Sports President Gina Ford, named as a defendant along with her company, did not return an email seeking comment.
Williamson announced April 15 he was leaving Duke after one season to enter the NBA draft. According to the lawsuit, the five-year contract he signed five days later with Prime Sports did not contain notice that he would lose his college eligibility upon signing, and did not contain a disclaimer allowing him 14 days to cancel. Both are required under the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Agents Act.
According to the lawsuit, Ford met with Williamson in North Carolina but neither she nor Prime Sports are registered as athlete agents in the state.
The lawsuit includes a copy of a May 31 letter Williamson sent to Ford to terminate the contract and a June 2 letter sent to Ford by Williamson's attorney, Jeffrey S. Klein, arguing the contract was void. Attorney Joann Squillace, who represents Ford, responded that the “foreseeable injuries, losses, damages and harm caused” would likely exceed $100 million.
Klein said in a statement that Prime Sports “blatantly violated the North Carolina statute specifically designed to protect student athletes” and that the agency's “continued threats against Mr. Williamson made necessary the filing of this lawsuit.”
The lawsuit asks the court to declare the contract void and prevent Prime Sports from acting on behalf of Williamson. It was filed a week before the draft, and Williamson is expected to be the No. 1 overall selection by the New Orleans Pelicans.
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