A judge in Florida's 11th Circuit Court ruled that New Orleans Pelicans star Zion Williamson will be required to answer questions relating to his eligibility at Duke during the 2018-19 season as part of an ongoing suit filed by his former agent, according to ESPN's Mark Schlabach.
Williamson's legal team is expected to appeal Judge David Miller's decision.
The ruling stems from accusations made last month by Gina Ford and Prime Sports Marketing. The parties are suing Williamson, his present representatives at Creative Artists Agency, and two of its employees for $100 million for violating an initial five-year agreement.
Williamson's representatives sought to have the initial contract with Ford and Prime Sports voided by a federal judge, citing that Ford was not a certified agent nor did the original contract include specific language designed to protect amateur athletes in the state of North Carolina.
The suit from Ford and Prime Sports claims that Williamson received impermissible benefits to sway his decision to commit to Duke and secure his endorsement of sports apparel brands, which would have negated his NCAA eligibility and thus his protection under the North Carolina law.
"(W)e believe that as a matter of law, the statute bars that contract," Williamson's attorney, Jeffrey Klein, told Miller on Tuesday. "The issue with respect to amateur status, there's no issue with respect to his amateur status, and in fact, if they wanted to find out the issue with respect to amateur status, eligibility is a determination made by the NCAA and made by Duke."
Ford's legal team insisted that the law is not applicable to Williamson under this circumstance.
"We're able to establish that he was not eligible during that time frame, which would be a defense to their claim that our contract was invalid," Doug Eaton told Miller. "The purpose of this statute is to protect student-athletes - actual student-athletes, eligible student-athletes - from predatory behavior of agents. It's not designed to protect people that are already accepting improper benefits."