Former Duke star Zion Williamson is being accused of accepting impermissible benefits to play for the Blue Devils, and no one is thinking twice about it.
According to Daniel Wallach, a legal analyst for The Athletic, Williamson’s former marketing agent, Gina Ford, is trying to get the New Orleans Pelicans rookie to admit under oath that he accepted illegal benefits leading up to his commitment to Duke. In a recent 100-page court claim, Ford accuses Williamson of accepting “money, benefits, favors or other things of value” to attend Duke University and to wear and/or use Nike and Adidas, among other allegations.
While most national media members who have become numb to pay-for-play scandals are brushing off the allegations, ESPN’s Bomani Jones is questioning whether analysts would be acting the same way if he went somewhere other than Duke.
In fact, Jones believes that if these allegations had come out with Williamson at Kentucky under John Calipari, the national media would be having a field day with this news.
“I do find it interesting though that yes, we are – generally speaking – numb about the idea that college players are getting paid,” Jones said on today’s edition of Highly Questionable. “However, you’re telling me that if this were John Calipari involved in this same situation that we wouldn’t be here talking about this across the board? “Oh man, this doesn’t really matter.” No. It wouldn’t be “All these guys get paid.” It would be “We knew John Calipari paid players.” That’s the way we do it.”
Jones compared this lack of media backlash to the same change of tune we saw once Mike Krzyzewski and the Duke program began signing one-and-done talent. When Calipari began the one-and-done movement, it hurt college basketball. When Coach K followed suit, it was just a “change in the times.”
We’re seeing a similar trend with these most recent allegations surrounding Williamson and the Duke program. Now that the Blue Devils are potentially involved, people are looking the other way.
“I do find it interesting that once it gets to Duke, when Duke wanted to deal with one-and-done players, it was a change in the times. It wasn’t about distorting what basketball was, this is just what it is now,” Jones said. “If people were to find out this happened with Duke, we would just say, “Oh well, this is just what it is now.” But keep in mind, when they thought about taking down that banner from 1999 because of Corey Maggette and Myron Piggie and all of that, [there] wasn’t nobody running to do that then in that time either.
“This becomes fascinating in large part because it’s happening to a program by and large people have decided no matter what it is, people are gonna say it’s okay because they’re so valuable.”
Will Williamson admit under oath what potentially happened behind the scenes at Duke? Jones thinks not.
“He ain’t snitching, he’s not gonna do it. They’ve got themselves a situation now, they’re in this game together,” the ESPN analyst said. “Zion is better off because he went to Duke and got the pub that came from going to Duke. He seemed to enjoy his experience, he’s not going to be the one that says anything about what happened while he was there.”
Check out the entire segment below: