Sports clothing giant Nike said Saturday that it would not respond to allegations by attorney Michael Avenatti that some of the company's employees made illicit payments to the families of high school athletes.
Avenatti was arrested and charged last month with trying to extort more than $20 million from Nike by threatening to go public with his allegations. He said he represented a high school coach who knew the details of the alleged payments.
Nike said Saturday amid the NCAA men's Final Four basketball playoff that it "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," it said.
Avenatti, who gained national fame as the attorney for adult video performer Stormy Daniels, flirted with running for president before a domestic violence arrest in November, a multimillion-dollar civil judgement against him in October and a split with Daniels last month.
Daniels, who sued President Donald Trump over a nondisclosure agreement, which prohibited her from speaking about an alleged sexual liaison she had with the president in 2006, said in March she has new legal representation.
Avenatti has denied any wrongdoing in the civil and criminal allegations against him, and prosecutors in Los Angeles declined to charge him following the domestic violence arrest.
The attorney has been sticking to his guns in alleging that Nike paid families of high school athletes. He released documents Saturday he claims show more than $170,0000 worth of payments to the family members of Deandre Ayton, Brandon McCoy and Bol Bol.
"They are trying to divert attention from their own crimes," he said of Nike following his arrest last month.