Romeo Langford was mentioned in a federal court document filed on Wednesday on behalf of controversial attorney Michael Avenatti, in which the motion alleges Nike was willing to pay Langford $20,000 while he was still in high school to play in Nike’s Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL).
Avenatti was charged for extortion earlier this year for an alleged “shake down” of Nike where he threatened to reveal supposed corruption. He has pleaded not guilty and filed this Motion to Dismiss on Wednesday as part of his defense.
The motion contains several allegations but the headline-grabber revolves around Nike executives discussing whether to offer payments to three specific players: Zion Williamson, Romeo Langford, and a minor in Michigan whose name was not made public.
According to the claims, EYBL director Carlton DeBose and Nike recruiting coordinator John Stovall had a conversation about paying players.
Stovall responded that they should pay:
“Zion – 35 plus”
“Romeo – 20”
and the unidentified minor “15.”
After which, DeBose replied that he was willing to make the $70,000 payment total and that the two should stay aggressive and get “creative” with the budget.
It is important to note that the document filed makes no mention of whether any of the players actually received money or even were offered payment. The motion only contains allegations of Nike’s internal conversations about potential payments, not conversations with players or families.
These allegations are substantially different than previous allegations of payments in the college basketball world. Previously, allegations of payments were allegedly made to players to commit to a particular school, whereas these allegations are solely about attending high school showcase events and leagues. However, once again, the motion does not discuss whether Nike actually followed up and went through with offering potential payments connected to these events. It merely mentions that executives discussed potential payments.
Other interesting excerpts from the court document include:
– DeBose stating that he estimates that 38 of the 40 EYBL teams made payments to players or families.
– A text message chain where DeBose acknowledged to a University of Kentucky assistant coach that Nike was “funneling payments” to high school players through at least 10 different EYBL coaches.
– A conversation between Nike executives where Rachel Baker, head of EYBL event strategy, expressed concern about carrying large amounts of money through an airport and said if it was her she would lie and “just say I just sold my car” if stopped and questioned.
(Photo Credit: Washington Post)