Attorneys for Pelicans rookie Zion Williamson contend that a Florida marketing company began recruiting him in January, three months before he declared for the NBA draft, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN. The charge is included in amendments to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in North Carolina in an attempt to terminate an agreement with Prime Sports Marketing.
The legal action alleges violations of North Carolina sports agent laws and comes in response to a June lawsuit filed in Florida by the company and its president, Gina Ford. She is seeking $100MM from Williamson and his current representatives, Creative Arts Agency, for “breach of contract.”
Williamson contends Ford and Prime Sports lacked proper certification from the NBPA and wasn’t registered in North Carolina. It also alleges fraudulent inducement and violations of North Carolina’s Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
Daniel Kaplan of The Athletic shares a portion of the suit that alleges Ford “approached Mr. Williamson’s family before and after basketball games, texted them repeatedly about a potential business relationship, and eventually met with Mr. Williamson and his family to discuss the prospect of entering into a marketing agent agreement.” It also claims she misrepresented her involvement with sprinter Usain Bolt.
This year’s No. 1 selection, Williamson signed a marketing deal with Prime Sports on April 20, five days after declaring for the draft. It included a clause preventing him from terminating the agreement for five years. Williamson’s family announced on May 31 that he was leaving the agency, and he later signed with CAA.
Williamson’s suit contends that Prime Sports isn’t registered to act as an agent in North Carolina or Florida and his agreement doesn’t contain “a conspicuous notice in boldface type in capital letters” informing him that he was forfeiting his college eligibility.