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Duke denies allegations of NCAA violations involving Zion Williamson, Michael Avenatti fires back

The Duke basketball program announced on Friday that they “found no evidence” of any NCAA violation involving Zion Williamson during its own apparent five-month investigation into the program, according to the Charlotte News and Observer’s Steve Wiseman.

The investigation came following controversial lawyer Michael Avenatti made comments back in April on his Twitter profile accusing Nike of paying Williamson’s mother to ensure he attended a Nike-sponsored school.

“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?” he said.

Back in August, Avenatti then brought forth documents in federal court alleging Williamson and former Indiana guard Romeo Langford were paid by their respective schools while still in high school.

Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld told the Observer on Friday that Williamson’s eligibility at Duke was not affected.

“As soon as Duke was made aware of any allegation that might have affected Zion Williamson’s eligibility, we conducted a thorough and objective investigation which was directed by individuals outside the athletics department,” Schoenfeld said. “We found no evidence to support any allegation. Zion thrived as both a student and an athlete at Duke, and always conducted himself with integrity and purpose.”

In response to Duke’s announcement, Avenatti fired back by telling the Observer he never heard from anyone associated with the university and will not back off of his claims.

“I never heard from anyone associated with Duke in connection with my allegations or any investigation,” Avenatti said. “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.”

And if what I am saying is untrue, I challenge Coach K and Duke University to file a defamation lawsuit against me tomorrow and we can let the chips fall where they may.”

Back in August, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel, and Dan Wetzel of Yahoo! Sports released a bombshell report filled with the various exhibitions submitted to federal court by Avenatti, who was attempting to support his claims from earlier that week that Nike had engaged in corruption and illegal payments to high-level basketball recruits.

Outside of Williamson and Langford, along with former Arizona center Deandre Ayton, Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne was one of several other individuals named in these documents, sparking a sense of uneasiness throughout the Big Blue Nation.

According to the official exhibits in Avenatti’s case, Payne – listed by his initials and nickname of “KP” in the messages – had a conversation with Nike EYBL director Carlton DeBose, who told the Kentucky assistant which EYBL coaches he supplied money to in order to help families of players on the popular shoe circuit.

After the news, I wrote a post on the website breaking down the text messages and why Kentucky fans shouldn’t be worried moving forward.

If you need to get caught up, check out that article below:

Everything you need to know about Michael Avenatti’s Nike allegations

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

43 responses to “Duke denies allegations of NCAA violations involving Zion Williamson, Michael Avenatti fires back”

  1. Thetruthshallsetbennyfree

    The NCAA will accept this as their investigation and drop it.

    1. runningunnin.454

      Still, that was quite the gauntlet that Avenatti threw at Dook; I say they should accept the challenge, and pass the popcorn.

  2. UKFanSC

    Hard to discern whether these are the ravings of an attention-getting buffoon or the tip of the Nike iceberg. Either way I would resist getting too self righteous until a bit more dust settles. Nike seems to be as tainted as Adidas, and that ain’t good for any Nike school.

    1. Cletis75

      True, but it seems that around the time Nike and Adidas got in the same bed is about the time we stopped getting top 5 players.

    2. JPhelps

      The truth will end up somewhere in the middle. Avenatti is a buffoon for sure, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. We all knew it ‘wasn’t just ADIDAS’. If any of this truly surprised anyone, they’ve lived on a deserted island since ‘Nam. I highly doubt Duke/K will go down tarnished in Avenatti’s words. The NCAAs ability to turn the blind eye to the state of North Carolina is undeniable. But in the public eye, K won’t be the greatest to ever coach. And that will burn him.

  3. StuckinLville

    We all know Coach K and Duke have been dirty and the NCAA has turned the other cheek. Coach K was getting beat for the best recruits so i would not be surprised at all. Kinda funny Duke wasn’t even in his final 2 or 3 and that’s where he goes. Where there’s smoke there’s fire.

    1. Big Sexy

      He cut it to four right before his decision. It was Duke, UNC, SC, and Clemson.

      “Days before his announcement, schools are making their final pitches to Spartanburg Day senior Zion Williamson.

      According to Inside Carolina, Duke, South Carolina, North Carolina and Clemson all were scheduled to meet with the nation’s No. 3 ranked recruit this week. The report stated the Gamecocks were scheduled to meet with Williamson on Wednesday with the Tar Heels on Thursday and Clemson on Friday. Duke met with Williamson on Tuesday.

      Read more here:

    2. SanDiegoDave

      I don’t know that Coach K and Duke are dirty. I certainly don’t believe a word that comes out of Avenatti’s sewer.

  4. UKinIN

    Well if Duke said nothing happened …

  5. CahillsCrossingNT

    The News and Observer is in Raleigh, not Charlotte. In Charlotte the paper is actually just the Observer. Also, nothing bad will happen to Duke, ever.

  6. CrystalBall

    Zion Williamson is a very good basketball player. But he was one of one most over-rated college players in NCAA history. Would have never received tbe same ESPN, or other sports media hype, had he attended another University.

    1. Ez21

      I’m sorry but that’s not true. He was unbelievably efficient and his athleticism alone would’ve been enough for him to be on SC every night.

    2. CrystalBall

      Ez21. He was still over-rated. If he was nearly as good as the media hype Duke woul have won a title. Or, at the least, made tbe final four. Anthony Davis was a much better college player.

    3. Big Sexy

      Does exposure help being at a Duke, Kentucky, UNC, etc.? Absolutely. But this guy deserved the hype.

    4. SanDiegoDave

      You are one for four. Zion is a very good basketball player. Everyone knows that. However, he was not overrated. The dude averaged over 22 points a game in the ACC, pulled down almost nine rebounds and, most impressively, had over two assists and steals a game. The man can play college basketball. No doubt. However, his NBA career will not match what he did in college. He’ll be a solid player for many years. A Hall of Famer he is not.

    5. SanDiegoDave

      And, using your logic, every premier player that attended UK or any other top school that didn’t win a title would be considered overrated. That doesn’t quite ring true, does it?

  7. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

    I guess I missed something when this Avenatti guy first started throwing around these accusations, but can someone explain to me what his interest is in all this?

    BTW, I ain’t holdin’ my breath for the NCAA to do anything to Duke. They always skate, and after the NCAA turned a blind eye to UNCheat, please…

    1. runningunnin.454

      He was trying to extort money from Nike.

    2. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      Oh okay, I definitely missed that. What a guy. And I thought he was just trying to be Mr. Ethics and right a wrong. lol

    3. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      Not really BTW.

    4. runningunnin.454

      Avenatti was charged by he Southern District of New York.; the figure mentioned was a 25 million extortion attempt.

  8. Dairy Queen All American

    Of course. I love the Inspector Clouseau quote.

    1. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      Haha. I love your screen name! Well played.

  9. Han

    Avenatti’s an attention-seeking dirtbag but it takes a dirtbag to catch a lot of dirtbags. He was telling the truth about Stormy Daniels (no amount of screaming “fake news” has changed that) and I’m sure he’s got the goods on Duke, too.

    1. SanDiegoDave

      Avenatti, Daniels, Trump. They are all dirtbags. I wish someone would take those three outside, line them up against a wall, and mow them down like Hitler did to the Jews.

  10. VirginiaCat

    Suspecting nefarious conduct and proving it are two separate matters. Administrative reviews are typically done for cover and rarely reveal noteworthy information. The benefit of a criminal investigation is that witnesses can be held criminally liable for false statements. That is unlikely. The good news is that IF Duke cheated, it’s unlikely that they will continue to benefit from an illicit pipeline of recruits due to media scrutiny.

    1. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      Duke? Media scrutiny? ROTFL!!!

    2. runningunnin.454

      The FBI is not interested in recruiting violations unless the money trail leads them to a coach keeping some of the money, like Chuck Person at Auburn.
      However, that direct accusation against Coach K is noteworthy, to say the least…if the quote is correct.

    3. runningunnin.454

      However, the ncaa can penalize for false statements ala Bruce Pearl.

    4. 4everUKblue

      Probably the best we can hope for is to tarnish his reputation, that would hurt him more than you know. I have no doubt he’s guilty and has been doing it for a very long time.

  11. UKfanman01

    U of L not in Bowen’s list, goes to Louisville and immediate investigation.
    Duke not in Zion’s final 3, picks Duke, nothing to see move along

  12. ScoggDog

    We’re talking about Duke here. The same Duke that played Corey Maggette. The same Corey Maggette that testified to receiving cash payments from Myron Piggie while playing AAU ball.

    Duke received no penalty then. They’ll receive none now. College basketball is a rigged game, and the NCAA is knee-deep in the corruption.

    1. runningunnin.454

      Actually, the FBI considers the schools as victims…and the ncaa turns the blind eye; the ncaa is the corruption.

  13. MtnCat

    Duke says nothing to see here, move along…

  14. Bruce Dickinson

    It’s a shame this didn’t come from someone a little more reputable than Avenatti. We all know this will go nowhere.

    1. Han

      Dude apparently tries to scam his clients, but his claims have been real.

  15. l503423

    Like him or not, Avenatti doubling-down by inviting litigation tell me he’s got the goods….unless Duke calls his bluff to make him STFU once & for all, you’ve got to wonder…

  16. bbn606

    Case closed.

  17. Big Sexy

    Duke: “We have investigated allegations of serious recruiting violations. We foun no evidence of any wrongdoing.”

    NCAA: “That’s good enough for us.”

  18. 4everUKblue

    Is anyone surprised that dUKe’s investigation found nothing? A friend of mine lives in Durham and says Zion’s mother was living in a mansion, I don’t know how true that is but it is believable.

    1. Han

      Institution that would suffer a loss of reputation, get financial penalties, and have hardships placed on their world-famous basketball program IF wrongdoing is found…finds no wrongdoing.

      Case closed.

    2. grammarpoliceUK

      I believe the value of the home was listed at 950,000 4ever. Saw that report on a sports site. In a gated community no less!

  19. dhard

    It’s all good now as Duke did a thorough investigation and found nothing. Nothing to see here folks, move along.