According to new court records and documents obtained in a federal civil lawsuit the mother and stepfather of Duke and now NBA star Zion Williamson accepted payments from Adidas executive Chris Rivers between 2016 and 2019 bank records show, as reported through a record request completed Monday by the Raleigh News & Observer.
The federal court records were filed as part of a civil lawsuit between former college player Brian Bowen and Adidas over alleged payments to basketball recruits and their families that would violate NCAA rules, per the Raleigh News and Observer.
According to these new findings, four separate wire transfers from Rivers’ company, In Your Eye Sports, were made to a joint bank account in the name of Williamson’s mother, Sharonda Anderson, and Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson. The payments, made between December 2016 and Marc 2017, totaled $5,000.
The payments came during the timeframe when Anderson coached an Adidas-sponsored AAU basketball team featuring Williamson in South Carolina.
The News & Observer reported last week the detailed testimony in depositions and documents about payments to Williamson’s family as well as a different Adidas rep buying plane tickets for former Duke player Frank Jackson while he was playing for the Blue Devils in 2016.
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Despite the NCAA clearing Williamson to play in 2018 and Duke’s own investigation in 2019 finding alleged payments to the player’s family holding no merit, court documents revealed otherwise. Bowen lost his NCAA eligibility after the FBI’s investigation into corruption in college basketball and later sued Adidas, claiming the company engaged in money laundering and bribery that would end up ruining his collegiate career.
Per court documents from April, Adidas’ legal representative William Taft wrote in response to a request from Bowen’s attorney about player payment that the apparel and sportswear giant “is aware of the following documents suggesting that certain fund transfers to Mr. Williamson or his family may have occurred.”
This is the second time Williamson’s family has been accused of accepting payments. In 2020, Williamson’s former agent Gina Ford served him with requests for admission that he received impermissible benefits to attend Duke and wear or use Nike or choose an Adidas-sponsored school.
Williamson originally signed with Prime Sports after he left Duke, but filed a lawsuit to terminate the five-year contract. Ford attests he received “money, benefits, favors or others things of value” to sign with the Blue Devils.