Published: Mon, April 08, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Nike responds to latest allegations from Michael Avenatti

Nike responds to latest allegations from Michael Avenatti

Though he faces federal extortion charges for his interactions with Nike, attorney Michael Avenatti isn't backing down with his allegations the shoe company bribed college athletes.

Duke University said Saturday it was "looking into" allegations that star freshman basketball player Zion Williamson's mother was paid by Nike.

Avenatti also reinforced his accusations against Nike Director of Elite Youth Basketball Carlton DeBose, who he says was involved in the payouts.

'Nike will continue its cooperation with the government's investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case, ' the statement continued.

This all comes after Avenatti, who has gained widespread notoriety in the past year for representing porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits against President Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen, was arrested and charged in NY in March for trying to extort millions of dollars from Nike by threatening to take his allegations public.

Avenatti's previous allegations included claims against former Arizona player Deandre Ayton and OR player Bol Bol.

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Federal prosecutors in California and NY allege that Avenatti threatened to expose misconduct by Nike employees regarding NCAA rules violations involving a Nike-sponsored AAU team unless he received pay.

During an October federal criminal trial in NY, in which three men were convicted for their roles in pay-for-play schemes to send high-profile recruits to Adidas-sponsored schools, one of the defendant's attorney attempted to introduce wiretap recordings, in which former Adidas consultant Merl Code and Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend discussed what it would take for Williamson to sign with the Jayhawks.

He's going to declare for the NBA Draft, so his college eligibility isn't in jeopardy, and there's no law against his mom getting paid by Nike, so she's not going to jail.

Ayton went No. 1 previous year to the Phoenix Suns. Bol's handler received $57,000 in 2017, according to Avenatti. Included are bank statements, text messages and fake invoices disguised as business expenses. Public records show it was registered in 1994 and lists Manning as its CEO.

Zion Williamson is grateful to win the U.S. Basketball Writers Association player of the year award and wants to thank his mom for putting him in the position that he is in. Other money was purportedly delivered directly to Andrea Ayton, his mother who moved to the United States in 2016 from the Bahamas.

"To be honest, I have no comment on that", Ayton told the Arizona Republic on March 27 after Avenatti first mentioned him in connection with Nike. You know? And I said, well, we'll talk about that you decide'.

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