Georgia Quarterback Suing Florida’s Billy Napier Over Scrapped NIL Deal

Jaden Rashada

New Georgia quarterback Jaden Rashada has taken legal action against Florida coach Billy Napier and a Gators booster, citing the collapse of a substantial NIL deal that led to his de-commitment from the program. Rashada, who transferred to Georgia from Arizona State in April, initially signed with Florida in December 2022, lured by the promise of an eight-figure NIL agreement.

However, when the deal fell through, he was released from his letter of intent in January 2023. The lawsuit alleges that Florida defrauded Rashada, with claims that Napier assured his father of a partial payment of $1 million at the time of his signing.

First NIL Lawsuit in the NCAA

Jaden Rashada’s lawsuit marks a precedent in college athletics as the first known legal action concerning NIL deals. The suit, which also names booster Hugh Hathcock and his automotive dealership as defendants, follows an NCAA investigation into Rashada’s recruitment by Florida in 2023. When the investigation was announced in January, Florida stated its cooperation with the inquiry.

Under the current, loosely defined NIL regulations, schools are prohibited from using potential NIL deals to lure recruits, a rule that, if strictly enforced, would significantly alter recruiting practices. Nevertheless, NIL agreements have quickly become a central topic in recruiting discussions, heavily influencing the decisions of many top prospects.

For universities and student-athletes, the entire transfer portal seems to be based on NIL opportunities. This ruling could significantly impact how student-athletes in the transfer portal communicate with universities surrounding the conversation of NIL deals.

NIL Deals Flip Commitments

Jaden Rashada’s recruitment saga took a dramatic turn when he flipped his commitment from Miami to Florida late in the cycle, enticed by a more lucrative NIL offer. According to his lawsuit, the NIL deal with Florida was valued at $13.85 million over four years, with booster Hugh Hathcock personally committing over $5 million.

However, complications arose when the deal’s guarantors tried to withdraw, casting doubt on the contract’s validity. The lawsuit alleges that Rashada ultimately signed with Florida after Coach Billy Napier promised a partial payment of $1 million.

Rashada signed with Arizona State, spending his freshman season with the Sun Devils before entering the transfer portal. His commitment to Georgia was somewhat unexpected, and he is anticipated to back up Carson Beck in 2024, with a chance to compete for the starting position in 2025.

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