Duke star Zion Williamson is suing to enforce his termination of an agreement he signed with a Florida marketing company, maintaining their deal was unlawful under North Carolina law, his attorneys told ESPN.
Williamson is set to become the No. 1 overall pick to the New Orleans Pelicansin next week’s NBA draft.
According to the suit filed in federal court in North Carolina on Thursday, Williamson signed a marketing deal with Gina Ford and Prime Sports on April 20, five days after he had declared his intention to enter the NBA draft.
That agreement included a clause that it could not be terminated for five years. Williamson’s family told Ford and Prime Sports on May 31 that it was ending the agreement. The agency responded by saying that if Williamson terminated the deal, they would sue for damages in excess of $100 million.
Williamson has since signed with CAA Sports for his contractual and marketing representation.
According to the suit, the agreement was unlawful under North Carolina’s Uniform Athlete Agents Act because Prime Sports is not certified by the National Basketball Players Association or a registered athlete agent in North Carolina or Florida. Additionally, the agreement failed to contain, as required under the UAAA, a conspicuous notice in boldface type in capital letters informing the athlete that by signing the agreement he was losing his eligibility to compete as a student-athlete.
Jeffrey S. Klein, an attorney for Williamson, told ESPN in a statement: “Prime Sports Marketing’s actions towards Mr. Williamson blatantly violated the North Carolina statute specifically designed to protect student athletes. Mr. Williamson properly exercised his rights under the law to void his business dealings with Prime Sports Marketing. Prime Sports Marketing’s continued threats against Mr. Williamson made necessary the filing of this lawsuit.”
The suit asks the court to declare the agreement void and bar Prime Sports from acting on Williamson’s behalf.
In a statement issued Thursday night, Ford maintained that a valid and enforceable contract exists between Prime Sports Marketing and Williamson.
“Prime Sports Marketing, LLC and Ms. Gina Ford look forward to litigating this matter in a court of law and are confident that they will prevail,” she said.