Former Arizona State quarterback Jaden Rashada, who recently transferred to Georgia, sued UF coach Billy Napier on Tuesday, claiming he was defrauded of millions of dollars in name, image and likeness money. [Patrick Breen/Arizona Republic-USA TODAY NETWORK]

Former Florida Signee Rashada Sues Napier Over NIL Deal

Former Florida football recruit and current Georgia quarterback Jaden Rashada filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Florida coach Billy Napier for a failed name, image and likeness deal. Gator booster Hugh Hathcock and former Director of Player Engagement and NIL Marcus Castro-Walker were also listed on the fraudulent claims.

Rashada alleges in his suit the defendants defrauded him by backing out of a promised $13.85 million NIL deal that was used to entice him to play for the Gators. The complaint seeks a jury trial and damages of at least $10 million.

University Athletics Association Spokesperson Steve McClain responded to WRUF’s request for comment in regards to the lawsuit:

“We do not comment on ongoing litigation, and neither the University Athletics Association nor the University are named in the compliant,” McClain’s statement read. “The UAA will provide for Coach Napier’s personal counsel, and we will direct all questions to those representatives.”

Team History

Rashada committed to play for the Gators in December of 2022. By signing his National Letter of Intent, he turned down a promised $9.5 million from Miami, according to ESPN.

On Jan. 18, 2023, he withdrew his letter of intent from Florida.

After decommitting from Florida, Rashada spent one year at Arizona State, where his father once played, before transferring to Kirby Smart’s program in Athens. He threw for a limited 485 yards with four touchdowns and three interceptions in the 2023 season due to injuries.

Unprecedented Times

This is the first known lawsuit in which an active college athlete sues a coach over an NIL-related conflict, not to mention Napier is of a rival team to Rashada.

According to the suit: “Sadly, unethical and illegal tactics like this are more and more commonplace in the Wild West that is today’s college football landscape. As the first scholar-athlete to take a stand against such egregious behavior by adults who should know better, Jaden seeks to hold Defendants accountable for their actions and to expose the unchecked abuse of power that they shamelessly wielded.”

In January, after Florida State was placed on probation for breaking NIL rules, the University of Florida became under investigation for its recruiting of Rashada. The NCAA halted the investigation when laws protecting athletes and NIL deals passed in Virginia and Tennessee.

Castro-Walker no longer works for Florida and Gator Collective has since been disbanded.

Recruitment by Florida

Florida offered Rashada an alleged $13.85 million and a $500,000 signing bonus to become a part of Napier’s growing program, per the suit. However, the boosters and the Gator Collective did not follow through on this agreement.

The lawsuit claims that no parties involved intended on paying the quarterback.

Per ESPN, Hathcock allegedly offered Rashada anything he needed, including the possibility of securing his father a job. Formerly associated with Velocity Automotive in Destin, Fla., Hathcock is one of Florida’s top boosters. He sent the young athlete $150,000, but Rashada received no other money from anyone involved.

The quarterback received a letter from Gator Collective that the $13.85 million offer was not to be fulfilled, according to the suit.

About Victoria Kitchens

Gainesville native Victoria Kitchens attends the University of Florida. She is a second-year Journalism major with a specialization in Sports and Media.

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