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  1. #1
    scottdude8's Avatar
    scottdude8 is offline Contributor, Zoubek disciple, and resident Wolverine
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    Zion improper benefits allegations are back from the dead, again

    New developments in the drama between Zion and his former marketing agent has brought back up the old allegations about improper benefits: https://www.si.com/college/2020/05/1...ow_facebook_si

    For the record, I love the way that Duke has strongly and clearly addressed this story over and over, and the way DBR has covered it as well. Just frustrating that this will be drawn through the news cycle once again seemingly...
    Last edited by Bob Green; 05-10-2020 at 04:04 PM.

  2. #2
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    Clickable link. Hell hath no fury like an agent scorned.

  3. #3
    FWIW, Daniel Wallach, a sports legal analyst, put the counterclaim by Prime Sports out on Twitter yesterday. Surprisingly, it attracted little attention. But the marketing agent made clear in their 100 page filing that their position is that Williamson was not a student athlete so they can not be held to the standards required by agents regarding such (which could void their agreement with Zion). Today, the additional filing came.out where they are asking Williamson to admit various things (step-dad took money from Addidas, Nike, Duke rep either formally or informally, etc.). From what Wallach states, this last filing is premature and gratuitous and seems designed.to pressure Williamson to come to a settlement. He specifically refers to It as a legal hail mary.

    The filing makes me uneasy, but it appears clear it is intended to embarrass Williamson. It is full of so many allegations against so many people that it seems clear to me, IMHO, they are throwing everything against the wall to see if something sticks. So I would not be surprised if many, if not all, of the allegations are unfounded. Avenetti showed that you can accuse anyone.of anything with no proof (for anyone unaware, Avenetti made accusations about Zion's mom - so I am not venturing into political territory).

    As I mentioned, this started yesterday and gained little traction. So perhaps the reaction to this may not be as bad as it initially seems - although yesterday the references to Duke were less direct and more implied in comparison to today.

  4. #4
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    In all my years of watching Law and Order, I never saw someone get served a document requesting that they admit to some wrongdoing. Could a legal mind shed some light on this? What is the intended purpose, and why would Zion have any motivation to actually sign it? As OM said, this looks to me like a smear campaign although obviously I am biased.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by UrinalCake View Post
    In all my years of watching Law and Order, I never saw someone get served a document requesting that they admit to some wrongdoing. Could a legal mind shed some light on this? What is the intended purpose, and why would Zion have any motivation to actually sign it? As OM said, this looks to me like a smear campaign although obviously I am biased.
    You’ve been watching fictionalized accounts of criminal proceedings. This is a civil matter with very different rules that allow this sort of discovery.

  6. #6
    It's pathetic how quick other fanbases are to jump on this stuff every single time some article gets printed.

    Just visited an N.C. State message board and even many of their fans are practically foaming at the mouth.

  7. #7
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    I'm so confused my this. Why would his former agent be suing him? To what end? And why would he ask Zion to flat out admit these things?

  8. #8
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    ,

    Quote Originally Posted by left_hook_lacey View Post
    I'm so confused my this. Why would his former agent be suing him? To what end? And why would he ask Zion to flat out admit these things?
    He is being sued, as I understand, because Zion allegedly signed a contract and is trying to get out of it.

    “Requests to admit” are standard civil procedure. You can ask the other party to admit the truth of certain facts (and sometimes, legal conclusions).

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by left_hook_lacey View Post
    I'm so confused my this. Why would his former agent be suing him? To what end? And why would he ask Zion to flat out admit these things?
    Quote Originally Posted by OldPhiKap View Post
    He is being sued, as I understand, because Zion allegedly signed a contract and is trying to get out of it.

    “Requests to admit” are standard civil procedure. You can ask the other party to admit the truth of certain facts (and sometimes, legal conclusions).
    Zion signed a representation contract with an agent, Gina Ford, who is based in Florida. Then a few weeks later he signed a contract with Creative Arts Agency, the big guys. This is now -- surprise, surprise -- in court.
    Sage Grouse

    ---------------------------------------
    'When I got on the bus for my first road game at Duke, I saw that every player was carrying textbooks or laptops. I coached in the SEC for 25 years, and I had never seen that before, not even once.' - David Cutcliffe to Duke alumni in Washington, DC, June 2013

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by sagegrouse View Post
    Zion signed a representation contract with an agent, Gina Ford, who is based in Florida. Then a few weeks later he signed a contract with Creative Arts Agency, the big guys. This is now -- surprise, surprise -- in court.
    So what does this agent get from him admitting that he was allegedly ineligible?

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by left_hook_lacey View Post
    So what does this agent get from him admitting that he was allegedly ineligible?
    Leverage.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by UrinalCake View Post
    In all my years of watching Law and Order, I never saw someone get served a document requesting that they admit to some wrongdoing. Could a legal mind shed some light on this? What is the intended purpose, and why would Zion have any motivation to actually sign it? As OM said, this looks to me like a smear campaign although obviously I am biased.
    Requests for Admission are a standard part of written discovery (along with interrogatories and document production requests) in civil litigation. You would not see these in criminal cases, which is why you haven't seen it on Law & Order.

    The most common use of RFAs is authentication of documents or other evidence. Parties must establish that every piece of evidence is authentic before it can be admitted into evidence. You would do that by witness testimony at trial, but it's boring for the jury and gets repetitive fast (most trials will involve hundreds of exhibits). RFAs usually come right at the close of discovery (the timing can vary, but for reference, discovery closes 60 days before trial in my jurisdiction), so the parties don't have to authenticate via witness testimony and piss off the judge and the jury. They can also been done for specific facts that aren't in dispute. You have to have a valid reason to deny a request. You cannot deny one just because it's unfavorable to your case. The court will sanction you for doing so.

    These are poor RFAs that Zion will deny. Pretty much all the requests I saw are asking Zion to admit the legal argument Ford is making. Those will almost always be properly denied. Proper requests would ask for admissions on the specific facts that, when taken together, establish your legal theory. Ford probably doesn't have any of those, though. If you've seen it, think of the house of cards analogy in My Cousin Vinny. Proper RFAs should ask for admissions for the individual cards, so you can build the house at trial or in a motion for summary judgment. Improper RFAs ask for admissions that the house was properly built. Ford appears to be doing the latter.

    Either the lawyers are bad, or this is a desperation move like Owen Meany describes. The only way Ford can prevail is if she can establish that Zion was not a student athlete when she signed him. Since Zion officially still had NCAA eligibility when she signed him--IIRC, after he declared for the draft but before the deadline to withdraw from it--she is trying to argue that Zion lost his eligibility by taking the improper benefits.

    Ford also might be pushing this narrative hard because she may have committed a felony when she signed Zion.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by left_hook_lacey View Post
    So what does this agent get from him admitting that he was allegedly ineligible?
    Quote Originally Posted by OldPhiKap View Post
    Leverage.
    Zion's side and CAA claim, I believe, that Gina Ford is not a registered agent in North Carolina and can not represent Zion under NC law. Looks like Gina Ford's team is saying that, well, Zion wasn't really a college athlete because of -- whatever -- receiving improper benefits at Duke.
    Sage Grouse

    ---------------------------------------
    'When I got on the bus for my first road game at Duke, I saw that every player was carrying textbooks or laptops. I coached in the SEC for 25 years, and I had never seen that before, not even once.' - David Cutcliffe to Duke alumni in Washington, DC, June 2013

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by left_hook_lacey View Post
    I'm so confused my this. Why would his former agent be suing him? To what end? And why would he ask Zion to flat out admit these things?
    Here's a link to the thread from back when the lawsuits first happened. It's a good starting point if not already familiar with this thing. There are stories linked in there that provide a lot of the background details. Also the Complaint is in there, I think. And I know there are a number of posts about the specific statute at issue (the Uniform Athlete Agent Act), too.

    Quote Originally Posted by sagegrouse View Post
    Zion's side and CAA claim, I believe, that Gina Ford is not a registered agent in North Carolina and can not represent Zion under NC law. Looks like Gina Ford's team is saying that, well, Zion wasn't really a college athlete because of -- whatever -- receiving improper benefits at Duke.
    This is it in a nutshell, though. The UAAA applies only to student athletes who could return to school and compete in future NCAA competition. Ford can't argue that she didn't violate the statute--she wasn't registered as an agent and the contract did not include language required by the UAAA--if it does apply to Zion, so she has to make this argument.
    Last edited by JetpackJesus; 05-10-2020 at 10:16 PM. Reason: Adding sagegrouse's post.

  15. #15
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    Appreciate all the information. My Law and Order comment was meant to be tongue-in-cheek, though it apparently did not come across as such, so my apologies. I actually get my legal advice from college basketball message boards

    (Also tongue-in-cheek, though slightly less so.)

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by bullettoothtony View Post
    It's pathetic how quick other fanbases are to jump on this stuff every single time some article gets printed.

    Just visited an N.C. State message board and even many of their fans are practically foaming at the mouth.
    I don't think the sentiments of Pack Pride reflect their fans at large. I am reminded of the scene in Breaking Bad when Walter visits Hector in the assisted living facility to enlist his help against Gus.

    "Now I know you don't like me, but I'll bet there's someone you dislike even more."

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by WakeDevil View Post
    I don't think the sentiments of Pack Pride reflect their fans at large. I am reminded of the scene in Breaking Bad when Walter visits Hector in the assisted living facility to enlist his help against Gus.

    "Now I know you don't like me, but I'll bet there's someone you dislike even more."
    What a great analogy. Well done.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by JetpackJesus View Post
    Requests for Admission are a standard part of written discovery (along with interrogatories and document production requests) in civil litigation. You would not see these in criminal cases, which is why you haven't seen it on Law & Order.

    The most common use of RFAs is authentication of documents or other evidence. Parties must establish that every piece of evidence is authentic before it can be admitted into evidence. You would do that by witness testimony at trial, but it's boring for the jury and gets repetitive fast (most trials will involve hundreds of exhibits). RFAs usually come right at the close of discovery (the timing can vary, but for reference, discovery closes 60 days before trial in my jurisdiction), so the parties don't have to authenticate via witness testimony and piss off the judge and the jury. They can also been done for specific facts that aren't in dispute. You have to have a valid reason to deny a request. You cannot deny one just because it's unfavorable to your case. The court will sanction you for doing so.

    These are poor RFAs that Zion will deny. Pretty much all the requests I saw are asking Zion to admit the legal argument Ford is making. Those will almost always be properly denied. Proper requests would ask for admissions on the specific facts that, when taken together, establish your legal theory. Ford probably doesn't have any of those, though. If you've seen it, think of the house of cards analogy in My Cousin Vinny. Proper RFAs should ask for admissions for the individual cards, so you can build the house at trial or in a motion for summary judgment. Improper RFAs ask for admissions that the house was properly built. Ford appears to be doing the latter.

    Either the lawyers are bad, or this is a desperation move like Owen Meany describes. The only way Ford can prevail is if she can establish that Zion was not a student athlete when she signed him. Since Zion officially still had NCAA eligibility when she signed him--IIRC, after he declared for the draft but before the deadline to withdraw from it--she is trying to argue that Zion lost his eligibility by taking the improper benefits.

    Ford also might be pushing this narrative hard because she may have committed a felony when she signed Zion.
    She didn’t commit a felony. Zion and family were domiciled in NC, not SC, and he was 18 — an adult and signed after the season ended but before CAA and the Draft. The family botched this 100%. At a minimum there will be a hefty settlement. My theory is that Ford had weaseled her way in with the family early on by either having provided some form of support or incentive that may or may not be illegal but was enough to convince them or leverage them to sign. It’s my speculation that Zion was influenced by a member of the family to sign this dumb contract. Hopefully this house of cards approach was their Ford’s last gasp effort, but I doubt it. I think they have something that’s probably hearsay or a little more tangible for when this does go to judge/jury; which they hope they can pin the family in a lie or in what could appear to be a lie. This procedure was just to tee it up and hope to try and smoke out an inconsistency that can leverage them as the case proceeds. And, it’s not going to go away easily. Zion has CAA lawyers on his side, which is good, but also goes to show that Ford has a legitimate case. I feel bad for Zion if he was in some sort of blackmail situation that he can’t get out of; at the same time, the signing of that contract and the timing has so many red flags — there will have to be a deep settlement. The question is how much will Duke’s reputation be pulled into this mess?

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by JetpackJesus View Post
    Here's a link to the thread from back when the lawsuits first happened. It's a good starting point if not already familiar with this thing. There are stories linked in there that provide a lot of the background details. Also the Complaint is in there, I think. And I know there are a number of posts about the specific statute at issue (the Uniform Athlete Agent Act), too.


    This is it in a nutshell, though. The UAAA applies only to student athletes who could return to school and compete in future NCAA competition. Ford can't argue that she didn't violate the statute--she wasn't registered as an agent and the contract did not include language required by the UAAA--if it does apply to Zion, so she has to make this argument.
    She didn’t sign an agent agreement with him; it was for marketing/management services. This will not go away on this technicality.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZLA View Post
    She didn’t sign an agent agreement with him; it was for marketing/management services. This will not go away on this technicality.
    It's not a technicality, though. The UAAA defines an "Agency Agreement" as "An agreement in which a student-athlete authorizes a person to negotiate or solicit on behalf of the student-athlete a professional-sports-services contract or an endorsement contract."

    According to an SI report (I think), the contract with Ford allowed her to, "Introduce Williamson to endorsement opportunities; Exclusively oversee all marketing opportunities brought before Williamson; and Negotiate on Williamson’s behalf with any company for purposes of an endorsement deal." Also, Ford has alleged that she did secure multiple endorsement deals for Zion before he terminated the contract.

    Provided Zion qualifies as a "Student Athlete" as defined in the statute* then this was an Agency Agreement under the UAAA.

    *"Student Athlete" means "An individual who engages in, is eligible to engage in, or may be eligible in the future to engage in any intercollegiate sport. If an individual is permanently ineligible to participate in a particular intercollegiate sport, the individual is not a student-athlete for purposes of that sport."

    Ford is trying to make the case that the second sentence of the definition applies to Zion.

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