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Zion Williamson's name surfaces in FBI investigation, Duke Athletics releases statement

<p>Zion Williamson surprised many with his commitment to Duke last January.</p>

Zion Williamson surprised many with his commitment to Duke last January.

Duke freshman Zion Williamson's name has surfaced in the ongoing Adidas FBI college basketball trial. 

According to a defense argument Tuesday, Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend discussed financial requests from Williamson's family during a phone call with Adidas consultant Merl Code in September 2017. The 6-foot-7 forward from Spartanburg, S.C., committed to Duke in January, giving the Blue Devils the top three recruits in the nation according to ESPN's class rankings.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan denied requests of the defense to enter the transcripts of the call into evidence, but one of Code's attorneys Mark Moore brought the conversation into the public domain.

The transcript of the conversation—reported by Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports—is as follows:

Townsend: “Hey, but between me and you, you know, he asked about some stuff. You know? And I said, ‘Well, we’ll talk about that, you decide.’ ”

Code: “I know what he’s asking for. He’s asking for opportunities from an occupational perspective, he’s asking for cash in the pocket and he’s asking for housing for him and his family.”

Townsend: “I’ve got to just try to work and figure out a way because if that’s what it takes to get him here for 10 months, we’re going to have to do it some way.” 

It remains unclear whether or not the "he" in the conversation is referencing Williamson or his family, but regardless, Duke remains confident that the university has fully abided by the NCAA's regulations.

Kevin White, Duke vice president and director of athletics, released a statement Wednesday afternoon:

“All Duke student-athletes are subject to a thorough review to ensure their eligibility. In men’s basketball, for the past several summers, Duke compliance officials, top recruits and their families have engaged in and cooperated fully with the NCAA Eligibility Center’s enhanced amateurism certification process," White said. "Duke works closely with the NCAA and the Atlantic Coast Conference on all compliance and eligibility matters. As we have stated in the past, we have an uncompromising commitment to compliance in athletics.”

Williamson is one of many top recruits to enter the Blue Devils' system in the last few years and went through screening along with fellow freshmen R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Tre Jones to certify his eligibility for the season.

Duke will kick off its season Friday at 7 p.m. at Cameron Indoor Stadium when the Blue Devils host Countdown to Craziness.

Michael Model

Digital Strategy Director for Vol. 115, Michael was previously Sports Editor for Vol. 114 and Assistant Blue Zone Editor for Vol. 113.  Michael is a senior majoring in Statistical Science and is interested in data analytics and using data to make insights.


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