Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx sued the Chicago Basketball Academy L3C (a “low-profit” LLC) and its founder and Damond Williams, who played in professional leagues in Asia, Europe and South America.
Williams founded the Chicago Basketball Academy in 2013 and ran the school though he “is not, and never has been, a licensed teacher, or school administrator in Illinois for any grade levels,” the prosecutor says in the June 22 complaint in Cook County Chancery Court.
“Williams founded the academy as a co-ed, private boarding high school that prepared students for college basketball and for careers in the basketball industry,” the complaint states. By late 2014, though Williams “had failed to attract the necessary financial investment needed to build and operate the Academy,” he continued to solicit students to enroll for the 2015-1016 school year, and took their parents’ money through “material misrepresentation and omissions regarding the Academy’s accreditation, facilities, staff, and its academic and athletic programs,” according to the 42-page lawsuit from the state attorney’s consumer fraud unit.
Even the school’s address, at 612 N. Wells St. in Chicago, was bogus according to the complaint. The building at the address was a (nonparty) rib restaurant.
Williams advertised that his school had “relationships with ‘100s of schools and universities,’ and ‘100s of organizations and companys,’” [sic], which was nonsense, the prosecutor says.
Though Williams pitched it as a four-year high school, it shut down within two weeks of opening in 2015, “after it failed to provide students with classrooms, textbooks, or instructional materials; failed to pay teachers and coaches; and failed to provide students with the promised educational and athletic programs described in the Academy’s brochures. Thereafter, Damond Williams and the Academy refused to refund parents’ prepaid tuition,” the complaint states.
Among Williams’ claims were that his school had a “premier” basketball training program, that its “programs and qualifications set the standard for education in the global economy,” and that “the world’s best universities and employers recognize the global qualifications in CBA students.”
Williams took parents of prospective students on tours of downtown office buildings and gyms with which he had no affiliation with at all, the state said.
Foxx seeks refunds, rescission of contracts, a permanent injunction, damages for consumer fraud, common law fraud and deceptive trade, and costs of suit.
The academy did not reply to a request for comment.