Michael Avenatti, the celebrity lawyer who represented a certain film star against President Trump on a case, was arrested yesterday with the charges of extortion against Nike. The federal government is involved due to the interstate and felonious nature of the charges in both California and New York.
BREAKING: Federal prosecutors in New York announce the arrest of Michael Avenatti on charges related to alleged $20 million extortion scheme targeting Nike. https://t.co/rAIUb7UPbf pic.twitter.com/aXbfTDBPrB— ABC News (@ABC) March 25, 2019
How does it involve the Ducks?
Well, he purportedly claims that Nike allegedly paid the handlers for current Duck and projected lottery pick, Bol Bol to sign with Oregon.
Bol Bol and his handlers also received large sums from Nike. The receipts are clear as day. A lot of people at Nike will have to account for their criminal conduct, starting with Carlton DeBose & moving higher up. The diversion charade they orchestrated against me will be exposed— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 26, 2019
Carlton DeBose is the Nike Youth Basketball Director for those who are wondering. Oregon and Dana Altman were briefly mentioned last summer as the FBI hoops trial saga wore on but nothing concrete was tied to the program.
Who’s the other star he named?
He named current Phoenix Sun rookie and former Arizona Wildcats star Deandre Ayton as another Nike affiliated athlete involved in the allegations. Arizona and by default, Ayton have been far more front and center in the ongoing FBI investigation and subsequent trials.
Ask DeAndre Ayton and Nike about the cash payments to his mother and others. Nike’s attempt at diversion and cover-up will fail miserably once prosecutors realize they have been played by Nike and their lawyers at Boies. This reaches the highest levels of Nike.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) March 26, 2019
This afternoon, the charged lawyer released some documents via a Dropbox account, putting alleged proof out there that Nike paid associates / relatives of Bol Bol, Deandre Ayton / Brandon McCoy.
The bit that everyone in the collective basketball world is interested about involves surefire top pick and Duke superstar Zion Williamson. In this tweet, he accuses Nike and Duke basektball (namely Coach K) of ensuring that ZW attends Duke by paying his mother “consulting fees.”
.@DukeMBB - About this denial by Coach K the other day relating to payments by Nike...Can you please ask Zion Williamson’s mother - Sharonda Sampson - whether she was paid by @nike for bogus “consulting services” in 2016/17 as part of a Nike bribe to get Zion to go to Duke? Thx.— Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) April 6, 2019
In what way does this relate to Bol Bol?
Found on page two of the 41 page document is how this all allegedly relates to former Oregon player Bol Bol and Nike. The following screenshot is of the alleged payments in relation to the player and his associates.
Bol Bol’s name also appears on pages 32. 35, and 37 in relation to Melvin McDonald, an individual somehow related to BB. The allegations are that McDonald acted as a go between via a non profit team called California Supreme Basketball and its coach Gary Franklin. CSB is part of the Nike Elite Youth Basketball circuit.
The majority of the documents accuse Franklin as the point of contact for McDonald to funnel the money from Nike.
How does this affect Oregon?
If you can recall, Coach Altman recognized the association between Bol and McDonald at his pregame presser last weekend. He stated, “What the relationship is, I’m not quite sure,” and also “but they definitely know each other.”
Coach Altman is on the record stating that the pair have an association but not enough concrete evidence that can connect them to criminal (federal) and illegal activites by NCAA statutes.
Oregon maybe subject to an NCAA investigation if these allegations are true pending any criminal litigation that the federal government wishes to pursue against Nike. As for potential Bol eligibility issues, he was out due to injury for a majority of the season so the penalty may not be as severe.
The university released a statement, via the Oregonian, it reads in full:
“As we have stated previously, and per our normal protocol, we conducted an in-depth review last summer into the amateur status of our student-athletes that revealed no indication of improper payments made to any student-athletes or their families,” Molly Blancett, a university spokeswoman, said in a statement. “In this specific case, the amateurism certification review was a joint collaboration between the Oregon Compliance department and the NCAA Eligibility Center staff.”
How does it affect Nike?
Outside the obvious federal and fiscal ramifications, not much else can be stated otherwise.
Nike and its lawyers will surely try to counter Avenatti’s claims in a courtroom. For now, this doesn’t affect the university or its athletic department or the now irrelevant eligibility question of Bol Bol.
The question of Avenatti’s character is certainly a valid one after his multiple allegations of wrongdoing involving finances and the charges that come with it. Unless something drastically changes, these claims are profoundly baseless hearsay that won’t stand up to the legal standards of the United States justice system.
If anything changes, we will keep it updated!!