Zion sues marketing company, alleging state law violation

Published Jun. 13, 2019 10:29 p.m. ET

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Former Duke star Zion Williamson is suing to terminate his contract with a sports marketing company, saying the agency violated the state's sports agent law.

A lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Greensboro says the star player should be allowed to void his contract with Florida-based Prime Sports Marketing LLC.

Williamson announced April 15 he was leaving Duke after one season to enter the NBA draft. According to the lawsuit, the five-year contract he signed five days later with Prime Sports did not contain notice that he would lose his college eligibility upon signing, and did not contain a disclaimer allowing him 14 days to cancel. Both are required under the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Agents Act.

According to the lawsuit, Prime Sports Marketing President Gina Ford met with Williamson in North Carolina, but neither she nor her company is registered as athlete agents in the state.

Creative Artists Agency announced May 30 that it had signed Williamson, the Associated Press college player of the year this season.

The lawsuit includes a copy of a letter Williamson sent the next day to Ford to terminate the contract and a June 2 letter sent to Ford by Williamson's attorney, Jeffrey S. Klein, arguing the contract was void. Attorney Joann Squillace, who represents Ford, responded that the "foreseeable injuries, losses, damages and harm caused" would likely exceed $100 million.

Klein said in a statement that Prime Sports "blatantly violated the North Carolina statute specifically designed to protect student athletes" and that the agency's "continued threats against Mr. Williamson made necessary the filing of this lawsuit."


When asked for comment, Ford provided The Associated Press with a statement attributed to Prime Sports that said CAA "was aware of the valid contract" between Williamson and Prime Sports, claimed Williamson "intentionally breached" his contract with Prime Sports and called the "collective actions of CAA and Zion Williamson ... willful, intentional and unlawful."

The lawsuit asks the court to declare the contract void and prevent Prime Sports from acting on behalf of Williamson. It was filed a week before the draft, and Williamson is expected to be the No. 1 overall selection by the New Orleans Pelicans.