Michael Avenatti is raising the stakes in his dispute against Nike, releasing yet another document that he claims details the sportswear giant’s alleged bribery of top college athletes.
In a series of tweets, the attorney posted what he said was a copy of a memo from early February describing a call between John Slusher, Nike’s executive EVP of global sports marketing, and an unnamed third party.
The purported creator of the memo claimed to have had a phone conversation with Slusher during which they discussed several accusations against two Nike Elite Youth Basketball executives. The memo states that he/she discussed with Slusher “ongoing corruption and illicit schemes” carried out by Nike Elite Youth Basketball executives Carlton DeBose and Jamal James. The document adds that Gary Franklin, director of the Nike-sponsored Amateur Athletic Union youth team called California Supreme, was directed to “submit fake invoices, make cash and bank-wire payments to handlers and family members of top Nike elite players,” including DeAndre Ayton and Brandon McCoy.
“Nike has known they bribed players for years and yet did nothing,” Avenatti said on Twitter.
The post comes a day after Avenatti threatened to release more evidence related to the scandal. “Still waiting on @Nike to refute a single document I have provided or my claim that they have bribed over 100 players to attend ‘Nike’ colleges,” he wrote. “Other schools should be outraged because they never had a shot.”
Over the weekend, the embattled celebrity lawyer posted a 41-page document that he claimed served as evidence of the Beaverton, Ore.-based company’s alleged illicit payments to top college recruits. The documents included what Avenatti said were emails and text message conversations between Nike employees and associates of the players, as well as bank statements that showed the alleged payments.
Among the images shared were screenshots of an alleged conversation between DeBose, who managed Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League, and Franklin. Avenatti has stated that Ayton — last year’s No. 1 overall draft pick and now a Puma ambassador — received money from Nike while he was still in high school.
“Nike should be criminally indicted on well over 200 counts and should also explain why they misled their investors/the SEC,” Avenatti wrote. “If I’m lying or the docs are not legit, I challenge @Nike to issue a [statement] claiming no bribes were ever paid. Just Do It Nike!”
In response to allegations made by Avenatti against the brand, Nike has repeatedly issued the following statement: “Nike will not respond to the allegations of an individual facing federal charges of fraud and extortion and aid in his disgraceful attempts to distract from the athletes on the court at the height of the tournament. Nike will continue its cooperation with the government’s investigation into grassroots basketball and the related extortion case.”
In a separate set of tweets on Friday, the attorney also alleged that Duke freshman star Zion Williamson was among the players bribed by Nike.
“We are aware of the allegation and, as we would with any compliance matter, are looking into it,” Duke’s director of athletics, Kevin White, wrote in a statement to the university’s independent news outlet, The Chronicle. “Duke is fully committed to compliance with all NCAA rules and regulations. Every student athlete at Duke is reviewed to ensure their eligibility.”
Avenatti faces fraud and extortion charges based on accusations that he attempted to extract $22.5 million from the athletic company by threatening to make public evidence of alleged employee misconduct.
Watch FN’s interview with Nike trainer Joe Holder below.
Michael Avenatti Throws Zion Williamson’s Name in With His Allegations of Nike Participating in Cash Payments Misconduct
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