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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Jaden Rashada sues Billy Napier over failed $13.85 million NIL deal

Rashada is the first-known college athlete to sue their coach or booster over NIL negotiations

<p>Austin Simmons flipped his commitment to Ole Miss Saturday, June 17, 2023. </p>

Austin Simmons flipped his commitment to Ole Miss Saturday, June 17, 2023.

Former Florida football recruit Jaden Rashada is suing Gators football head coach Billy Napier, top UF booster Hugh Hathcock and former football staffer Marcus Castro-Walker over a botched name, image and likeness deal.

Rashada signed his national letter of intent to Florida on Dec. 21, 2022. He claims in his lawsuit Napier promised Rashada a $1 million payment advance on signing day which he never received. If the claim holds true, Florida’s recruiting program would be in violation of the NCAA’s policies. 

UF’s football program has been under investigation by the NCAA since Summer of 2023 due to Rashada’s recruitment. On June 9, 2023, the NCAA sent UF President Ben Sasse a notice of inquiry to notify him of the investigation. 

The quarterback prospect never enrolled at Florida, and Rashada ended up asking for a release from his letter of intent when his NIL deal fell through. Rashada was released from his commitment. He then visited Arizona State and committed to play for the Sun Devils in July 2023. 

When Rashada initially signed with Florida, he flipped his commitment from the Miami Hurricanes to become a Gator. Miami promised $9.5 million which is a portion of damages Rashada is claiming. 

Per the lawsuit, on National Signing Day, Castro-Walker threatened Rashada by saying if he did not sign with Florida, Napier might walk away from the prospect as a whole. Castro-Walker is no longer employed at Florida. 

Rashada alleges in the lawsuit that Hathcock approached him when he visited UF in June 2022, and offered the quarterback “whatever needed” including a potential job for Rashada’s father. Hathcock valued the deal at $11 million. 

Florida’s offer to Rashada added up to $13.85 million over four years with $5.35 million from Hathcock and a signing bonus of $500,000 through Velocity Automotive per ESPN.

The lawsuit states once Rashada committed to UF, Napier and the boosters drew back on their initial word and the promised amount of money decreased. 

Rashada withdrew his intent to play at Florida Jan. 18, 2023. He committed to ASU, and after one season, he transferred to Georgia to play for the Bulldogs in 2024.

Contact Krisha at ksanghavi@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter at @krishasang. 


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Krisha Sanghavi

Krisha Sanghavi is a third-year public relations and economics major. In her free time, she loves cheering on Miami sports teams and spending time with her friends.


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