Duke University said on Saturday it is "investigating" allegations made by a famous lawyer Michael Avenatti that the mother of the first-year star Zion Williamson It was paid for "consulting services" by Nike. Avenatti, who has been accused by federal prosecutors In New York for allegedly trying to extort Nike for almost $ 20 million, he claimed on Twitter Friday night that Nike paid Williamson's mother, Sharonda Sampson, for "fake consulting services" for Williamson to choose Duke.
"We are aware of the accusation and, as we would with any compliance issue, we are investigating it," Duke's vice president and athletic director, Kevin White, said in a statement. "Duke is fully committed to complying with all NCAA rules and regulations. Every student athlete at Duke is reviewed to ensure their eligibility. With respect to men's basketball: all recruits and their families are thoroughly examined by Duke in collaboration with the NCAA through the amateurism certification process of the Eligibility Center. "
Sampson has not yet responded to the allegations.
Avenatti did not offer any evidence of these accusations.
Avenatti also alleged Friday night that Nike paid the families of other important recruits. Avenatti tweeted documents, including those that appeared to be bank statements and invoices that, according to him, are false, said he had backed up his accusations.
Avenatti alleged that a senior Nike executive "has bribed more than 100 high school players over the past four years to play college basketball at Nike-affiliated colleges rather than other schools." He also stated that senior Nike executives and other schools looked differently.
In a statement, Nike said it "will not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal fraud and extortion charges and help in his shameful attempts to distract athletes on the court during the tournament, Nike will continue their cooperation." with the government's investigation into grbadroots basketball and the related extortion case. "
In March, the US attorney UU For the Southern District of New York, he accused Avenatti and another lawyer of threatening to release what Avenatti said is damaging information about Nike if the company did not comply with their demands.
The United States attorney in Los Angeles said separately the same day that Avenatti faced charges of bank fraud and transfer of funds for allegedly embezzling a client's money and swindling a bank through false tax returns.
Avenatti has denied the charges. He said "CBS This morning "in March that the accusation that he tried to extort Nike is "absurd."
"There are legal experts who say that I was well on the line as an aggressive lawyer, there are many who say that, and the fact of the matter is that this was not extortion," he said. "People make threats all the time in relation to trying to solve a case."
Avenatti was arrested in New York on March 26, was released with a personal recognition bonus of $ 300,000 and ordered to hand in his pbadport. You are also required to report any transaction of $ 5,000 or more to the court, and your travel is restricted.