June 13 (UPI) — Duke Blue Devils star Zion Williamson is suing a Florida sports marketing firm to terminate his contract, saying the deal violated North Carolina law.
According to the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in North Carolina, Williamson signed a marketing deal with Gina Ford and Prime Sports on April 20. His attorneys said the agreement contained “draconian terms,” citing a clause that noted it couldn’t be terminated for five years, and could only be ended “for cause” after the five-year period.
The lawsuit alleges that the five-year deal Williamson signed with Prime Sports didn’t contain a notice that he would lose his remaining college eligibility after signing with the agency. It also didn’t include a disclaimer allowing him 14 days to cancel the agreement. Both are required under the North Carolina Uniform Athlete Agents Act.
According to the suit, Ford held a meeting with Williamson in North Carolina, but neither her or Prime Sports are certified in the state.
“Prime Sports Marketing’s actions toward Mr. Williamson blatantly violated the North Carolina statute specifically designed to protect student athletes,” Jeffrey S. Klein, an attorney for Williamson, said in a statement. “Mr. Williamson properly exercised his rights under 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.”
Williamson’s family told Ford and Prime Sports on May 31 that the agreement between the two sides was ending, according to the suit. The agency responded by saying that if the star forward ended the contract, they would sue him for damages in excess of $100 million.
Williamson recently signed with CAA Sports on May 30 for his contractual and marketing representation. The New Orleans Pelicans are expected to select the forward with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft on June 20.